United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge.
reasons set forth below, plaintiffs Arma Yates LLC, Florence
Heights Associates LLC, Hutchinson Kansas LLC, Minnesota
Associates LLC, Ogden Associates LLC, Peabody Associates Two
LLC, Sedgwick Properties LLC, and Wellington Subleasehold
LLC's (“Judgment Creditors'”) motion for
a rule to show cause against defendant Jon Robertson
(“Robertson”) , as recently supplemented
, is granted in part and denied in part.
14, 2016, this Court entered an agreed order requiring the
production of certain records prior to Robertson's
deposition in this case. R. 84. The order required Robertson
to “produce, on or before July 21, 2016, all business
records and correspondence dating at least as far back as the
filing of this lawsuit, to the extent such documents are in
his possession or under his control, related to: . . . d.
Details regarding any transfer of the [Esther Johnson Trust
(‘Trust')], or any assets held in or by the Trust,
overseas or elsewhere including, if possible, an accounting
of Trust funds transferred.” R. 84 ¶ 1. Judgment
Creditors believe that Robertson did not produce all
Trust-related documents that were in his possession or
control. Robertson claims that he produced all relevant
documents in his possession or control.
December 16, 2016, this Court entered judgment in favor of
Judgment Creditors in the amount of over $30 million. R. 107.
The judgment remains largely unsatisfied. Judgment Creditors
issued citations to discover assets on March 10, 2017. R.
108; R. 112. When Judgment Debtors failed to comply with the
citations, Judgment Creditors followed up with motions to
compel, and this Court granted those motions. R. 114; R. 116;
R. 127. On April 15, 2017, the Court entered a turnover order
specifically directing Robertson to comply with the
citations. R. 128; R. 130.
22, 2017, Judgment Creditors moved for a rule to show cause.
R. 138. That motion sought, among other things, an order for
“Judgment Debtors J. Robertson and [his wife] S.
Robertson . . . to appear before the Court to answer
questions, under oath, propounded by the Court and counsel
for Judgment Creditors.” Id. at 7. At a show
cause hearing on May 31, 2017, the Court granted Judgment
Creditors' request and ordered an evidentiary hearing to
take place. R. 142.
evidentiary hearing was subsequently postponed several times,
first by Robertson's request for a continuance (R. 157)
and then by Robertson and his wife's two successive
bankruptcy filings (R. 159; R. 163). The first bankruptcy
case was dismissed by the United States Bankruptcy Court for
the District of Utah on September 20, 2017. R. 160-1. In the
second bankruptcy case, the Bankruptcy Court issued an order
on December 4, 2017 “confirm[ing] that the automatic
stay has terminated with respect to the Debtors under 11
U.S.C. § 362(c)(3) as to any actions by the Judgment
Creditors with respect to the judgment debt owed to them by
the Debtors” and expressly authorizing this Court to
convene a show cause hearing in this case. R. 164-1 at 2-3.
continued scheduling difficulties (see R. 167; R.
168; R. 173), the Court ultimately conducted a two and a half
hour evidentiary hearing on March 1, 2018. R. 186. The
Robertsons and one of the Judgment Creditors' counsel
appeared by video. R. 187 at 1. At the end of the hearing,
the Court authorized Judgment Creditors to supplement their
motion for rule to show cause. Id. at 87. Judgment
Creditors filed a supplement a few weeks later (R. 189),
Robertson responded (R. 193), and the Judgment Creditors
replied (R. 194).
forth in Judgment Creditors' supplement to their motion
for rule to show cause, Judgment Creditors seek three forms
of relief against Robertson: (1) “civil contempt (until
such time as he provides credible evidence as to the location
of the Trust's assets or transfer of same),  criminal
contempt (incarceration for providing perjurious testimony
and material misrepresentations . . .), and/or  a referral
to an appropriate United States Attorney's Office for
prosecution for providing false statements and testimony,
and/or bankruptcy fraud.” R. 189 at 2. The Court
addresses each form of requested relief in turn.
hold a party . . . in civil contempt, the district court must
be able to point to a decree from the court which set[s]
forth in specific detail an unequivocal command which the
party . . . in contempt violated.” Jones v. Lincoln
Elec. Co., 188 F.3d 709, 738 (7th Cir. 1999). As the
Jones court further explained:
civil contempt proceedings may be classified into two
categories. Coercive sanctions, which are really the essence
of civil contempt, seek to induce future behavior by
attempting to coerce a recalcitrant party or witness to
comply with an express directive from the court. Remedial
sanctions, by contrast, are backward-looking and seek to
compensate an aggrieved party for losses sustained as a
result of the contemnor's disobedience of a court's
order or decree made for the aggrieved party's benefit.
However, irrespective of the nature of the civil ...