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KS Appellate Opinion - In the Interest of J.T.R et Mother J.M.R [Civil Contempt] 105505

KS Appellate Opinion - In the Interest of J.T.R et Mother J.M.R [Civil Contempt] 105505

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Published by: AnotherAnonymom on Aug 31, 2012
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08/03/2013

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1No. 105,505IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF KANSASI
N
T
HE
I
NTEREST OF
J.T.R., D
ATE OF
B
IRTH
: XX/XX/2000andJ. M. R., D
ATE OF
B
IRTH
: XX/XX/2002.SYLLABUS BY THE COURT1.
 
An appeal will not be dismissed for mootness unless it is clearly and convincinglyshown the actual controversy has ended, the only judgment that could be entered wouldbe ineffectual for any purpose, and it would not impact any of the parties' rights.2.
 
Courts exercise contempt powers in order to maintain decorum in all courtproceedings, punish those who show disrespect for the court or its orders, and enforceits judgments. Courts punish those acts, or failures to act, which obstruct theadministration of justice.3.
 
If the district court imposes sanctions for contempt of court, the procedure underK.S.A. 20-1201
et seq
. regulates that power. No inherent power to punish for contemptexists independent of K.S.A. 20-1201
et seq
.4.
 
K.S.A. 20-1202 sets out two major classes of contempt: direct and indirectcontempt. Direct contempt is committed during the sitting of the court or before a judge at chambers. All other instances of contempt are indirect.
 
25.
 
There are two additional categories of contempt, denominated as civil and criminalcontempt. They are distinguished by the intent of the penalty imposed and not necessarilythe nature of the underlying legal or equitable action that the court is dealing with.6.
 
Civil contempt proceedings are remedial in nature and designed to advance theprivate right of a litigant won by court order. Any civil contempt penalty is intended to becoercive, and relief can be achieved only by compliance with the order. Any sentenceimposed for a civil contempt violation must permit the contemnor to unlock the door of the jail and discharge himself or herself by doing what he or she has previously failed todo.7.
 
Criminal contempt is conduct directed against the dignity and authority of a courtor a judge acting judicially, with punitive judgment to be imposed in vindication; itsessence is that the conduct obstructs or tends to obstruct the administration of justice.8.
 
The procedure a court must follow for either criminal or civil indirect contempt of court is the same and found in K.S.A. 20-1204a.
Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; J
AMES
L. B
URGESS
, judge. Opinion filed February 24,2012. Sentence vacated.
 Roger Batt,
of Haysville, for appellant natural mother.
  Lesley A. Isherwood 
, assistant district attorney,
 Nola Tedesco Foulston
, district attorney, and
 Derek Schmidt 
, attorney general, for appellee.
 
 
3Before G
REENE
, C.J., H
ILL
, J., and M
ICHAEL
E. W
ARD
, District Judge, assigned.H
ILL
, J.: In this appeal we focus on how a court can use its contempt powers toenforce its orders. The mother of two minors failed to obey a no-contact court order byvisiting her children who were the subjects of child in need of care petitions. As a result,the State accused her of indirect civil contempt of court. Civil contempt proceedings areremedial in nature, seeking the party's compliance with the court's orders. Here, thedistrict court found her to be in contempt of court and simply sentenced her to serve 5days in jail as punishment for violating the court's order. Because the court gave thecontemnor no way to purge herself of contempt, we hold that sentence to be whollypunitive. The court failed to give the contemnor "the keys to the jail." The court had noauthority to impose a criminal contempt sentence in a civil contempt proceeding.Therefore, we vacate the penalty.If we view this action as an indirect criminal contempt of court proceeding, wemust reverse the contempt finding because the contemnor was forced to testify againstherself in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.
The case history reveals a violation of the court's order.
In two child in need of care cases, the district court found each child in need of care and ordered them to remain in the custody of the Secretary of Social andRehabilitation Services. The court ordered V.R., their mother, not to contact either child.This included such contact as written, verbal, face-to-face, email, or contact through athird party. Any visits V.R. intended to have with the children had to be supervised.Later, the court amended the order, telling V.R. to not go to the father's house, his placeof employment, the children's school, or the children's resource home.

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