"That is the question I’m facing with the latest twist in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox, a pro bono First Amendment case that I’m litigating before the Ninth Circuit.
For more on the substantive First Amendment issue, see the materials collected here. But this twist is all about procedure (as so many legal questions are).
- Obsidian Finance and Kevin Padrick sue Crystal Cox. They win at trial, and get a large judgment.
- Cox appeals on First Amendment grounds (I’m representing her on appeal). Cox has very little money, so she can’t put up a so-called “supersedeas bond” (a bond for the full amount of the judgment) that is required to keep plaintiffs from seizing her assets to execute the judgment. But that doesn’t block her appeal, since under federal law one generally doesn’t need to put up a bond in the amount of the judgment to appeal — one only needs the bond to stop execution on the judgment pending appeal.
- But plaintiffs have a different view: They go to Oregon court, register the judgment, get a writ of execution, and ask the sheriff to seize and sell to the highest bidder Cox’s “intangible personal property,” in the form of ... Cox’s right to appeal.
Of course, if plaintiffs can do this to Cox, any plaintiffs who win a judgment against a defendant who can’t afford a supersedeas bond can do the same. Poor civil defendants’ rights to appeal would thus be lost, and so would the rights to appeal of plaintiffs who weren’t poor at the outset but face a ruinous judgment that they can’t afford to stay.