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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In this original habeas corpus proceeding, petitioner Jim Gawerc contends his civil contempt imprisonment is illegal because he is unable to post the $50,000 child support bond required for his release. HOLDING:Granted. A petitioner may not be confined for civil contempt unless he or she has the ability but refuses to perform the conditions for release. At the trial court’s de novo commitment hearing, Gawerc conclusively established that: 1. the bond must be 100 percent collateralized by cash or a bank line of credit; 2. his only source of income is from his private law practice; 3. he has no contingent fee cases, no accounts receivable, and no ability to generate income from jail; 4. he has access to approximately $500 cash and his other assets are encumbered by a federal tax lien in excess of $3.9 million; and 5. he knows of no other source from which he can borrow the $50,000 necessary to secure the bond. Gawerc’s mother is no longer willing to loan him the money. The court states that, “Although opposing counsel questioned Gawerc at length about alleged suspicious transfers of real estate prior to the date of the first contempt order, counsel did not offer any evidence that the transfers were fraudulent, that Gawerc still possesses any proceeds from the sales, or that the value of any assets Gawerc presently owns or has access to exceeds the federal tax lien.” Nothing in the evidence suggests Gawerc had the ability to post the child support bond at the time of the trial court’s commitment hearing. Gawerc conclusively proved that at the time of the commitment hearing, he did not have the ability to purge himself of civil contempt. OPINION:Per curiam.

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