Imposing Penalty for Frivolous Appeal

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has sanctioned an attorney on the grounds that he filed a frivolous pro se appeal. The Appeals Court ordered the husband/attorney in G.E.A. v. D.B.A., Case No. 2040392 (Ala. Civ. App. July 29, 2005) to pay his ex-wife “an amount equal to double the costs of this appeal.”

The Appeals Court’s opinion describes a busy procedural history, punctuated by repeated filings by the husband of various postjudgment motions. The husband had been found in contempt of court for failing to pay alimony and marital debts. It’s not clear from the opinion the extent to which, if at all, the husband made any payments on these debts.

The husband made several arguments on appeal raising procedural challenges, arguments the Appeals Court found to have no merit.

There is no merit to the arguments the husband has asserted in his brief on appeal. Under Rule 38, Ala. R. App. P., this court may, ex mero motu, award “just damages and single or double costs to the appellee” where the appellant prosecutes a frivolous appeal. Given the arguments raised by the husband in his brief on appeal, together with the extensive procedural history of this case and the fact that the husband is an attorney, we conclude that this appeal is brought for delay and that it is frivolous. See Committee Comments, Rule 38, Ala. R. App. P. Therefore, we award the wife an amount equal to double the costs of this appeal as a sanction against the husband.

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