JENNIFER M. WOODWARD, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Mark Alan Speiser, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Benjamin Eisenberg, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Heidi L.
Bettendorf, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
Woodward appeals a circuit court order finding her in both
direct and indirect criminal contempt. We reverse the finding
of indirect criminal contempt because the pertinent hearing
transcript fails to disclose the conduct the judge identified
as the basis of the contempt. We affirm the finding of direct
contempt proceedings in this case arose in a probate action
involving the estate of Woodward's deceased aunt.
March 2, 2016 Hearing
March 2, 2016 hearing on a motion for appointment of
administrator ad litem, Woodward interrupted with commentary
about the "ridiculous" nature of the proceeding.
The petitioner's attorney complained about Woodward's
comments from the "peanut gallery." The trial judge
warned Woodward that any further outbursts when it was not
her turn to speak would result in her removal from the
Woodward butted in again, the trial court gave her a
"second and last" warning. He said that if she
continued to speak out of turn, "then you're out of
here. It's as simple as that."
continued to heckle the petitioner's attorney, stating
that she "could have been to Disney World four times
with my ninety-year-old dad, " apparently a reference to
the glacial pace of the probate proceeding. As she continued
to talk over everyone, including the judge, the judge said
"You are out. . . . You're out. . . . Get your face
out of here."
way out of the courtroom, Woodward stated, "Fort
Lauderdale came to my son and abducted my son out of my house
in Oakland Park in 2013. I got bigger fish to fry." She
added, "You can have the pictures and the real estate
card and the Jesus stuff, because you need it." It is
unclear what she meant by these observations. Woodward did
not return to the courtroom for the remainder of the hearing.
Woodward's exit, the petitioner's attorney discussed
the necessity of an administrator for certain "property
[that] is now vacant." Another attorney at the hearing
also said "the house is supposed to be vacant." The
trial court ultimately appointed an administrator ad litem
for the limited purpose of listing the property for sale.