While there are unpleasant stereotypes about Philadelphia lawyers, H. Beatty Chadwick, an attorney from the Philadelphia main line, has a lesson for all with his Gollum-like stubbornness. Today he’s spending his 14th consecutive Christmas in jail on a contempt citation for allegedly hiding assets from his ex-wife.
After a hearing yesterday, Delaware County Court President Judge Joseph P. Cronin Jr. turned down Chadwick’s latest request for Christmas furlough, declaring him “a significant risk of flight.”
Had the court let him out for Christmas, Chadwick could have cut off his electronic-monitoring bracelet and used his money and contacts to fly off in a helicopter, his ex-wife’s attorney, Albert Momjian, said.
By now Chadwick has spent more time locked up for his contempt than any American in history. While I don’t sympathize with Chadwick (who now suffers cancer) if he’s really hiding the money from the court and his ex, surely at some point his indefinite detention becomes a due process violation. Unlike most who serve life sentences, Chadwick has never been adjudicated a criminal, and debtors’ prisons were abolished centuries ago.