from the Cass Superior Court The Honorable Richard A.
Maughmer, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 09D02-1811-MC-807
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jeffrey D. Stanton Logansport, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Frances Barrow Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Cheryl Alcorn appeals the trial court's finding of
contempt against her. Alcorn raises one issue for our review,
namely, whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
found her in contempt for having failed to pay the
court's payroll voucher. We conclude that Alcorn has not
met her burden on appeal to demonstrate that she was not in
direct contempt and, thus, we affirm.
and Procedural History
In early 2018, the Cass County Council appropriated $25, 000
for the Cass Superior Court to hire a fourth court employee.
The county council did not place any restrictions on those
funds. The county council had also appropriated money for
part-time employees, who are to be paid at a rate of not more
than $12.50 per hour. On October 15, the Cass Superior Court
hired a retired school teacher to fill the full-time position
of court reporter. However, "due to prior teaching
commitments," the court phased in the new court reporter
as her schedule would allow until she could work full time.
Appellant's App. Vol. II at 4.
On October 29, the trial court submitted a payroll voucher to
Alcorn, who is the Cass County Auditor. In that voucher, the
court approved payment for the new court reporter at a rate
of $14.01 per hour for the hours the court reporter had
worked, which the trial court "intended to be taken from
the $25, 000.00 unrestricted funds." Id.
However, Alcorn refused to pay the voucher as submitted.
Instead, Alcorn paid the court reporter at the rate of $12.50
per hour because the court reporter had only worked part
On November 2, the trial court issued a citation finding
Alcorn in contempt for failing to pay the payroll voucher as
submitted. Specifically, the trial court found that Alcorn
had "refused to pay said voucher as per the order"
of the trial court. Id. at 6. The trial court
further found that Alcorn's refusal to pay the court
reporter at the correct rate "substantially disrupt[ed]
the operation of the court" and "constitute[d]
direct contempt of the court[.]" Id.
The trial court held a hearing on November 5. At the hearing,
Alcorn stated that she did not pay the payroll voucher as
submitted because part-time employees were only able earn
$12.50 per hour. Alcorn also asserted that the payroll
voucher was not an order of the court. At the conclusion of
the hearing, Alcorn agreed to pay the payroll claim
"under protest." Tr. Vol. II at 15. The trial court
did not impose any sanctions on Alcorn due to her compliance
with the payroll voucher. This appeal ensued.
Alcorn contends that the trial court abused its discretion
when it found her in contempt. As the Indiana Supreme Court
"It is soundly within the discretion of the trial court
to determine whether a party is in contempt, and we review
the judgment under an abuse of discretion standard of
review." Steele-Giri v. Steele, 51 N.E.3d 119,
124 (Ind. 2016) (quoting Witt v. Jay Petroleum,
Inc., 964 N.E.2d 198, 202 (Ind. 2012)). "We will
reverse a trial court's finding of contempt only if there
is no evidence or inference therefrom to support the
finding." Id. The trial court has the inherent
power to "maintain  its dignity, secur[e] obedience to