Friday, July 17, 2009

In America?

We found this story hard to believe, that this happened in America. Because we know very little about the history and facts of this case, it is difficult to analyze the whys. It was just our astonishment at the outcome that meant we had to post about it.

Our thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer for their full story.

H. Beatty Chadwick, seventy-three years old, has been imprisoned for fourteen long years for contempt of court - a U.S. record for that charge. According to the Inquirer, "a Delaware County judge had issued the order to jail Chadwick for failing to deposit $2.5 million in a court-controlled account to be used to pay alimony to his ex-wife, Barbara "Bobbie" Applegate [in 1995]." Mr. Chadwick contended that he didn't have the dough. He said he lost it in overseas investments. The judge didn't believe him. A series of investigations have turned up no hidden money.

Ten days ago Judge Joseph P. Cronin said after fourteen years the contempt order had lost its coercive effect and become punitive. According the Inquirer, "when Chadwick's attorney, Michael J. Malloy, arrived to pick him up, about 50 people - prison staff as well as inmates - gathered inside and out to see him off... People were crying and hugging Chadwick and shaking his hand."

The moral of the story as we see it, don't go ostrich America. Things of this nature demonstrate that bizarre, unusual and even extraordinary detention can and does happen to people here.

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