Court sides with senator in divorce contempt dogfight

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 1:13 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court has sided with a state senator in a contempt case that began with a divorce dispute over a dog.

The justices were asked to decide whether Republican Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami should be held in direct or indirect contempt for failing to appear in court to explain why he wouldn't turn over a dog to his wife in a divorce. Direct contempt is generally applied when someone openly defies a judge in court, rather than a failure to appear.

The Supreme Court decided Thursday the senator should be held in indirect contempt, overturning a lower court's decision. The justices clarified that failure to appear in court should always be treated as indirect contempt, which allows a hearing for a person to explain.