The Disentitlement Doctrine: What’s That?

  The “disentitlement doctrine” allows an appellate court to dismiss an appeal by a party who has refused to comply with a lower court order. When a party stands in contempt of a lower court order there is no right to have an appellate court hear his demands on appeal and the appeal may be dismissed.

  Dismissal is the exercise of a court’s inherent power to use its processes to induce compliance with presumptively valid orders. Appellate disentitlement is a discretionary tool that may be applied by an appellate court when the balance of the equitable concerns make it a proper sanction.

  The doctrine has been applied in a diverse number of cases. Recently, in Stoltenberg v. Ampton Investments, Inc., defendant appellants were ordered by a trial court to respond to postjudgment discovery designed to obtain information to aid in the enforcement of the judgment being appealed and had been found in contempt. The appeal was dismissed for the willful disobedience and obstruction of the presumptively valid order.

  I consult with clients and accept cases involving appeals and appellate procedure. For other types of cases I accept, please consult the My Practice page. If you are seeking a legal consult or representation, please give me a call at 818.971.9409. – Michael Daymude

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