Murphy v. Katz
Murphy v. Katz is an unpublished December 2005 order from the South Carolina Court of Appeals. I represented a father who sought to modify a Georgia custody order against his ex-wife, who lived in Alaska. After we successfully obtained custody at the temporary hearing, the mother appealed. However at the time of her appeal she was refusing to comply with any of the South Carolina family court orders and there was a bench warrant out for her arrest. I filed a motion to dismiss her appeal based on what is called the “fugitive disentitlement doctrine.” This doctrine is rarely applied in custody cases. However because the mother had not alleged any abuse by my client against the child and because she was a fugitive from South Carolina, the South Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed her appeal.
During my representation in the South Carolina custody case, Ms. Katz also filed an action in Alaska to modify the Georgia custody order. Mr. Murphy then asked the Alaska courts to honor the South Carolina custody order. The Alaska family court dismissed Ms. Katz’s action and agreed to enforce the South Carolina custody order. Ms. Katz appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court, which, in a published 2007 opinion that I was not involved in, upheld the lower court’s dismissal of her case and registration and enforcement of the South Carolina custody order I obtained for Mr. Murphy. Katz v. Murphy, 165 P.3d 649 (Alaska, 2007).