Puchner v. Kruziki, No. 96-1731

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore CUMMINGS, RIPPLE, and DIANE P. WOOD; DIANE P. WOOD
Citation111 F.3d 541
PartiesJohn D. PUCHNER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. William KRUZIKI, Waukesha County Sheriff, Respondent-Appellee, and Anne C. Hepperla, formerly known as Anne C. Puchner, Intervenor.
Docket NumberNo. 96-1731
Decision Date15 April 1997

Page 541

111 F.3d 541
John D. PUCHNER, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
William KRUZIKI, Waukesha County Sheriff, Respondent-Appellee,
and
Anne C. Hepperla, formerly known as Anne C. Puchner, Intervenor.
No. 96-1731.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued Nov. 13, 1996.
Decided April 15, 1997.

Page 542

Thomas E. Hayes (argued), Milwaukee, WI, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Steven R. Schmitz (argued), Office of the Corporation Counsel, Waukesha, WI, for Respondent-Appellee.

Bruce C. O'Neill, Fox, Carpenter, O'Neill & Shannon, Milwaukee, WI, for Intervenor.

Before CUMMINGS, RIPPLE, and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.

DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judge.

Normally, the federal courts do not become involved in child support disputes, as this is one of the matters most clearly allocated to the state courts in our federal system. In this case, however, John Puchner's failure to honor a child support agreement with his ex-wife, Anne Hepperla, became a federal case when he sought a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his incarceration pursuant to a contempt order entered by the state court judge. Puchner claimed before the district court, and now reiterates here, that the state court's contempt order was not supported by "competent proof," which in turn meant that his incarceration violated federal due process principles. Since Puchner is no longer in custody for his contempt, the respondents suggest that this case has become moot in any event. We agree and hereby dismiss the appeal.

I

In December 1993, Hepperla filed a motion in the Waukesha County Circuit Court requesting that Puchner be held in contempt pursuant to Wis.Stat. § 767.30 for failure to pay child support and otherwise to comply with the parties' 1992 divorce judgment. Attached to that motion was an affidavit from her attorney detailing the various payments Puchner had failed to make. Puchner responded with a countermotion and affidavit in which he asserted that he would "only address scheduling matters at this time" and that he "reserve[d] the right to provide further affidavits related to pending motions in the future." He indicated that he would present evidence at an unspecified future time of his attempts to pay child support; he attached no documentary evidence whatsoever to his countermotion.

Waukesha Circuit Court Judge Willis Zick held a hearing on Hepperla's motion on February 11, 1994, at which Puchner appeared telephonically at his own request. Hepperla's attorney began by briefly reviewing the allegations of the contempt motion and his affidavit. Puchner responded that he had mailed the checks to Minnesota (the state where the divorce had been granted), and that Minnesota returned them to him. He alleged that he had the envelopes and uncashed checks to back up his account, but he did not produce them for the hearing. Judge Zick then asked him how much money he had, in light of his allegation that the uncashed checks had been returned. At first Puchner refused to say, claiming that "discovery" would be required on the matter, but eventually he declared that he was "flat broke." The hearing went on for some time, with Puchner interrupting both the court and Hepperla's attorney so often that the court threatened to hold him in contempt for his behavior at the hearing.

On the principal motion, Judge Zick decided that Puchner had contumaciously violated the court order requiring the child support payments. He relied both on Puchner's failure to submit any documentation of his attempted payments that might have countered the statements in Hepperla's attorney's affidavit, and on his judgment that Puchner's credibility was poor....

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17 practice notes
  • A.M. v. Butler, No. 02-2882.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 2, 2004
    ...stake in the judgment of conviction which survives the satisfaction of the sentences imposed on him.'" Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir.1997) (quoting Carafas v. La Vallee, 391 U.S. 234, 237, 88 S.Ct. 1556, 20 L.Ed.2d 554 (1968)). This standard applies equally to juvenile......
  • Nowakowski v. People, Docket No. 14–1964
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 26, 2016
    ...judgments that entailed similar—if not always identical—consequences to the judgment in this case. See e.g. , Puchner v. Kruziki , 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir. 1997) (“We need not finally resolve whether a judgment of civil contempt is the kind of ‘conviction’ contemplated by the collateral ......
  • Nowakowski v. New York, Docket No. 14-1964
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 26, 2016
    ...judgments that entailed similar — if not always identical — consequences to the judgment in this case. See e.g., Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir. 1997) ("We need not finally resolve whether a judgment of civil contempt is the kind of 'conviction' contemplated by the coll......
  • U.S. v. Hill, No. CR 00-30041.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • October 4, 2001
    ...petitioner's habeas petition moot), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 940, 104 S.Ct. 1917, 80 L.Ed.2d 464 (1984); see also Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543-44 (7th Cir.) (contempt order under which petitioner was incarcerated and released, did not carry the kinds of collateral consequences that w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • A.M. v. Butler, No. 02-2882.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 2, 2004
    ...stake in the judgment of conviction which survives the satisfaction of the sentences imposed on him.'" Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir.1997) (quoting Carafas v. La Vallee, 391 U.S. 234, 237, 88 S.Ct. 1556, 20 L.Ed.2d 554 (1968)). This standard applies equally to juvenile......
  • Nowakowski v. People, Docket No. 14–1964
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 26, 2016
    ...judgments that entailed similar—if not always identical—consequences to the judgment in this case. See e.g. , Puchner v. Kruziki , 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir. 1997) (“We need not finally resolve whether a judgment of civil contempt is the kind of ‘conviction’ contemplated by the collateral ......
  • Nowakowski v. New York, Docket No. 14-1964
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 26, 2016
    ...judgments that entailed similar — if not always identical — consequences to the judgment in this case. See e.g., Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir. 1997) ("We need not finally resolve whether a judgment of civil contempt is the kind of 'conviction' contemplated by the coll......
  • U.S. v. Hill, No. CR 00-30041.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • October 4, 2001
    ...petitioner's habeas petition moot), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 940, 104 S.Ct. 1917, 80 L.Ed.2d 464 (1984); see also Puchner v. Kruziki, 111 F.3d 541, 543-44 (7th Cir.) (contempt order under which petitioner was incarcerated and released, did not carry the kinds of collateral consequences that w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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