One of the more interesting cases currently before the Rhode Island Superior Court is the effort of plaintiff Michael P. Trainor to collect a $1.5 million civil judgment he won in 1992 against defendant Paul D. Grieder.
Today, renowned and well-respected Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini took the unusual step of holding Grieder in contempt for failure to make his monthly payments to Trainor.
Here’s the background via the Providence Journal.
- In July 1988, Grieder and Trainor got into an altercation outside the the Living Room nightclub. Trainor was left with a fractured skull and permanent hearing loss.
- Grieder received three years’ probation and a suspended prison sentence after he pleaded no contest to felony and simple assault.
- In 1992, Trainor won a $1.5-million verdict against Grieder.
- In 2002, now-retired Judge Stephen J. Fortunato Jr. ordered Grieder to pay Trainor $400 per month toward the award, which has grown to $5 million-plus with interest.
- In 2004, Judge Procaccini tried to double Grieder’s obligation to $800 per month, saying Grieder is “able-bodied, educated and highly employable, far more than he is presently employed.”
- The RI Supreme Court overturned Procaccini’s ruling (read decision here), saying it sympathized with Trainor but that the judge had not followed proper procedure in revisiting Grieder’s payments.
- In December 2007, Procaccini sent Grieder to jail for 30 days for willful contempt of court because he did not make payments to Trainor for a portion of 2002.
- Today, Procaccini ordered Grieder to pay $400 toward the judgment by the fifth day of every month, starting next month and that if he fails to make three $400 payments by July 22, when the case will be reviewed, he will be sentenced to 30 days in the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.
The Projo 7 to 7 News Blog reports on today’s hearing:
Grieder “continues to be in willful, deliberate contempt of the order of Judge (Stephen J.) Fortunato,” Procaccini said, referring to a 2002 order by the now retired judge mandating Grieder to pay $400 a month toward the $1.5 million judgment awarded to Michael P. Trainor, of Warwick, in 1992. The judgment has since grown to some $4 million with interest. “There has to be something held over his head to get him to respect the order of this court,” Procaccini said.
Grieder’s lawyer, Keven A. McKenna, argued this in response:
[He argued] that the contempt proceedings should be dismissed because Grieder had not been served the required legal papers more than a decade ago. He also asserted that Grieder could not be jailed for not having money or for choosing not to work up to what others perceive as his potential, according to the Rhode Island Constitution.
“The test isn’t we think you could have been Albert Einstein … The test isn’t you could have made more money,” McKenna said as Grieder, a hulking man, scribbled notes to him. “You can’t send anyone to jail because they are not a millionaire. Some people don’t have assets.”
Procaccini replied: “Some people don’t have assets because they purposefully set out not to have assets.”