A United States Bankruptcy judge in Fort Lauderdale, FL, John Olson, is receiving some attention for his unorthodox methods of dealing with litigants and lawyers who upset him.
The Daily Business Review reports that Judge Olson has ordered at least ten people detained, two of whom are attorneys. He has sanctioned several other lawyers, banning them from practice in bankruptcy court or ordering them to pay fees.
One of the attorneys thrown in jail observed: “[Olson] might be a brilliant jurist, but I think he’s power mad. That’s just my opinion.”
The debate rages throughout the United States as to whether bankruptcy judges have the same powers as other judges listed in Article III to jail people. Most everyone agrees that they have the power to issue orders of civil contempt, but there is not agreement on whether they can jail someone for criminal contempt.