Rollins’ punishment for contempt on hold for now

Atlanta decorator and author Danielle Rollins has been facing a contempt ruling that had her headed to jail and a court order directing her to pay up to $578,000 in damages, fines and fees.

But the Georgia Supreme Court recently halted the proceedings before the judge who handed down that extraordinary order, agreeing to hear Rollins’ appeal of that decision.

The state high court will review the contentious litigation that ensued after Rollins divorced her husband, Glen Rollins, who once headed the Orkin pest-control empire. Danielle Rollins has said that, before their divorce, her husband cheated on her by sleeping with dozens of prostitutes and was controlling and abusive to her. Glen Rollins has since accused his former wife of stealing and vandalizing his property in the months after their divorce was final.

The case has now been before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane for more than three years as lawyers for both sides have waged scorched-earth litigation, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. One question the state Supreme Court is now asking: Could Lane have conducted the final contempt hearing in November and issue her ruling at a time when Rollins had another appeal pending before the Supreme Court?

If the court decides that Lane did not have jurisdiction at that time, she will need to hold another hearing to determine Danielle Rollins’ possible punishment.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear my appeal gives me a renewed faith in our justice system,” Danielle Rollins said. “I will keep fighting for what is right. I want my children to know that you stand up to injustice, no matter who is doing it, whether it is to you or to others, because it’s the right thing to do, even when it is hard and even when you are tired of doing it.”

Scott Berryman, a lawyer for Glen Rollins, could not be reached for comment.

In a court filing this month, Berryman urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal and accused Danielle Rollins and her lawyer of trying to frustrate the administration of justice. Every aspect of her litigation “has been to facilitate her thefts, conceal her culpability for such wrongdoing and avoid the consequences of her actions and her violations of court orders,” Berryman wrote.

Danielle Rollins’ lawyer, Chris Corbett, expressed gratitude with the high court’s decision. “We look forward to presenting our appeal later this year,”

In his court filings, Corbett has accused Lane of failing to follow the law by ignoring the prior appeal, having improper communications with another judge who had entered an order in the case and citing Rollins with 34 counts of criminal contempt without proper notice. Berryman has countered that those allegations are without merit.

The litigation began not long after the couple reached a divorce settlement in December 2013. Under the agreement, Danielle Rollins received a $15.35 million settlement and $15,000 a month in child support for the couple’s three children. (She has since sued her prior lawyers, saying it was an unfair settlement.)

Glen Rollins was allowed to keep Boxwood, the Habersham Road estate designed by Philip Shutze and which the couple renovated at lavish expense. An arbitrator was assigned to oversee division of the home furnishings the couple had purchased for Boxwood. After the arbitrator issued his ruling, Glen Rollins said he returned to the home and found that many items awarded to him were either missing or damaged.

Rollins then filed contempt charges against his former wife and has sought to have her jailed for her conduct.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.