Putting debtors in jail for obstinate refusal to pay bills is something no judge does lightly. It has odious, Dickensian, associations. “It’s considered draconian,” says West Orange solo practitioner Ellen Marshall.

But with no other recourse, Marshall obtained such relief two years ago to coerce a matrimonial client into paying her long overdue fee and costs of $85,553. And an appeals court said on Wednesday that even though the coercion element may not be working, the client will remain in jail unless he proves at a hearing he can’t satisfy the judgment.

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