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Copyright (c) 2008 Law Review Association of the Quinnipiac University School of Law
Quinnipiac Law Review

ARTICLE: Why There is Disobedience of Court Orders: Contempt of Court and Neuroeconomics


Quinnipiac Law Review

26 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 1015


Manuel D. Leal*


I. Introduction

It may well be that our legal system is quite inept to the point where individuals simply will not obey a court order in civil proceedings. This Article explores the observable phenomenon of people choosing not to obey civil court orders, and strongly suggests that enforcement laws could be improved significantly by taking advantage of contemporary scientific knowledge of human behavior, particularly in the area of neuroeconomics. 1 The frequently used contempt of court enforcement remedy is surveyed, pointing out that its limitations often allow a disobedient party to escape the consequences of disobeying a court order.

One might ask why anyone would even consider disobeying a court order. Yet, in reality, many people do disobey court orders. This Article proposes that the decision to disobey is largely about a lack of consequences, for it appears that far too many people rationally believe that the potential consequences for disobedience are worth risking so long as it allows them to forgo compromising the exercise of their free will. The more acceptable this disobedience becomes in our society, the more impotent our judicial system becomes, and therein is buried the real downfall. Certainly, those serving in judicial positions can significantly alleviate this decline by rigorously and predictably enforcing court orders so that the public perceives inevitable and dire consequences to disobedience. This Article, however, advocates an alternative solution to improving compliance: legislation that incorporates results of scientific research on human behavior in order to vastly improve compliance ...
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