Recent Pronouncements Regarding Applicable Standards of Review

The Alabama Supreme Court and the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently stated the standards of review applicable to contempt orders and orders granting permanent injunctions.  

In Hull v. Hull, released January 22, 2009 by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the court reiterated the standard to be applied when reviewing a contempt judgment:

The standard of review of a judgment of contempt is as follows: Whether a party is in contempt of court is a determination committed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and, absent an abuse of that discretion or unless the judgment of the trial court is unsupported by the evidence so as to be plainly and palpably wrong, this court will affirm.

The court further noted that the ore tenus standard plugs into this analysis:

[I]n ore tenus proceedings, the trial court is the sole judge of the facts and of the credibility of the witnesses, and it should accept only that testimony which it considers worthy of belief….Moreover, where evidence is presented to the trial court ore tenus, a presumption of correctness exists as to the court’s conclusions on issues of fact; its determination will not be disturbed unless it is clearly erroneous, without supporting evidence, manifestly unjust, or against the great weight of the evidence. 

Also on January 22, the Alabama Supreme Court released a case stating the standard of review applicable to orders granting permanenet injunctive relief.  In Sycamore Management Group, LLC v. Coosa Cable Co.,  the court stated that the entry of a permanent injunction is reviewed de novo, but that the deferential ore tenus standard comes into play in that "a trial court’s consideration of ore tenus testimony has bearing upon the standard of revew we apply to the entry of a permament injunction."