Bankruptcy courts have authority to hold in civil contempt one who refuses to comply with a bankruptcy court order, including incarceration and/or daily fines until the offender complies.[1]  But when does civil contempt[2] cross into criminal contempt, which is punitive and outside the scope of the bankruptcy court’s powers?[3]  While a bright-line rule is wanting, the 9th Circuit’s silence on a recent case implied that three years of incarceration plus a $1,000 daily fine to coerce compliance does not implicate criminal due process concerns and, therefore, is within the bounds of permissible bankruptcy court authority.

Kenny G Enterprises, LLC’s Chapter 11 case (which dealt with a developer named Kenny G, and not the world’s favorite saxophonist) was converted to Chapter 7, triggering a requirement