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Bankruptcy no bar to contempt prosecution

Lost in the flap about a white supremacist facing federal contempt charges was the substance of the opinion that brought the charges to the surface.

Now available on the Western District Web site, Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski’s opinion explains why — even though the defendant filed for bankruptcy protection — his contempt-of-court proceedings will go forward. Finding that William A. White’s apparent deletion of computer files in the face of a subpoena gives rise to a criminal, not civil, contempt proceeding, Urbanski wrote, “ ‘[T]he automatic stay was not intended by Congress to be used as a sword,’ and White cannot be allowed to use his bankruptcy filing as such.”

By Peter Vieth

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