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In re Freed

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan

July 31, 2013


For Mustafa Abdul-Qadir Al-Din, also known as Money, also known as Moo, defendant: Scott Allen Mertens, Mertens Laxton and Clement PLLC, Lansing, MI.

For Walee Abdulazeem Al-Din, also known as Cheeto, also known as Chi Chi, identified on initiating document as Walee Abulazeem Al-Din, defendant: Scott Graham, Scott Graham PLLC, Portage, MI.

For Charles Kunta Lewis, Sr., also known as Big Chuck, defendant: Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Grand Rapids, MI.

For Ralphael Remier Crenshaw, also known as Gee, also known as Geezy, defendant: Paul Mitchell, Paul L. Mitchell PLLC, Grand Rapids, MI.

For USA, Plaintiff: Brian K. Delaney, Timothy P. VerHey, U.S. Attorney (Grand Rapids), Grand Rapids, MI.



Page 717


This Civil Contempt Order involves Juror Steven Phillip Freed, Juror Number 02-0084. The Court summoned Mr. Freed by standard juror summons. Mr. Freed appeared as part of the jury venire, responded to questions from the Court and counsel for the parties and was ultimately selected to sit as one of two alternate jurors for an estimated three week trial. When the Court instructed the jurors to stand and be sworn, Mr. Freed refused to stand. After entreaty from the Court, Mr. Freed did eventually stand, but he did not take the oath with this fellow jurors. When questioned by the Court, he persisted in his refusal to take the oath and submit to jury service as required by the original juror summons, by his ultimate selection to serve, and by the direct order of the Court. After consulting with counsel, the Court determined that it had no choice but to hold Mr. Freed in civil contempt.

Page 718

The Court did so and remanded Mr. Freed to the Marshal. As of the close of business on jury selection day, the Marshal Service informed the Court that Mr. Freed was not interested in purging his contempt at the time, and so the Court arranged overnight lodging for Mr. Freed in Marshal custody. After consulting with counsel, the Court selected another juror to serve in the seat Mr. Freed was initially selected to occupy. The jury of twelve, with two alternates, was then sworn.

It is a basic proposition of law that parties must comply promptly with all orders and judgments of courts. See Maness v. Meyers, 419 U.S. 449, 458, 95 S.Ct. 584, 42 L.Ed.2d 574 (1995). Failure to do so may lead to contempt citation and sanctions.

A contempt finding is appropriate where a party shows by clear and convincing evidence that the litigant violated " 'a definite and specific order of the court requiring him to perform or refrain from performing a particular act or acts with knowledge of the court's order.'" Nat'l Labor Relations Bd. v. Cincinnati Bronze, Inc., 829 F.2d 585, 591 (6th Cir. 1987), ( quoting SEC v. First Financial Group of Texas, Inc., 659 F.2d 660, 669 (5th Cir. 1981)); see also Glover v. Johnson, 138 F.3d 229, 244 (6th Cir. 1998) ( quoting Glover v. Johnson, 934 F.2d 703, 708 (6th Cir. 1991)). Any sanction imposed for a civil contempt must have as its goal coercing compliance with the Court's orders or compensating for losses sustained because of the contempt, and not punishment for wrongdoing. See Glover, 199 F.3d at 313 (citing TWM Manufacturing Co. v. Duna Corp, 722 F.2d 1261, 1273 (6th Cir. 1983)).

In International Union, United Mine Workers of America v. Bagwell, the Supreme Court said that, " The paradigmatic coercive, civil contempt sanction, as set forth in Gompers [v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 442, 31 S.Ct. 492, 55 L.Ed. 797 (1911)], involves confining a contemnor indefinitely until he complies with an affirmative command such as an order 'to pay alimony, or to surrender property ordered to be turned over to a receiver, or to make a conveyance.'" 512 U.S. 821, 828, 114 S.Ct. 2552, 129 L.Ed.2d 642 (1994) (emphasis added). The Bagwell Court went on to cite several other Supreme Court cases upholding imprisonment for civil contempt for either an indefinite term or a lengthy, fixed term. See, e.g., Gompers, 221 U.S. at 442 (recognizing that indefinite detention is not unlawful because contemnor " carries the keys of his prison in his own pocket" and can " end the sentence and discharge himself at any moment by doing what he had previously refused to do" ); McCrone v. United States, 307 U.S. 61, 64, 59 S.Ct. 685, 83 L.Ed. 1108, 1939-1 C.B. 277 (1939) (upholding detention " until [witness] purges himself of contempt by obeying [court's] order" to testify); Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364, 370 n.6, 86 S.Ct. 1531, 16 ...

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