An injunction is a court order requiring a person to do or cease doing a specific action. Temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions are temporary injunctions. They are issued early in a lawsuit to maintain the status quo by preventing a defendant from becoming insolvent or to stop the defendant from continuing his or her allegedly harmful actions. Choosing whether to grant temporary injunctive relief is a discretionary power of the court. Permanent injunctions are issued as a final judgment in a case. Failure to comply with an injunction may result in being held in contempt of court. See, e.g., Roe v. Wade 410 US 113 (1973).

injunctions: an overview

An injunction is a court order requiring an individual to do or omit doing a specific action. It is an extraordinary remedy that courts utilize in special cases where preservation of the status quo or taking some specific action is required in order to prevent possible injustice. Injunctive relief is a discretionary power of the court in which the court, upon deciding that the plaintiff's rights are being violated, balances the irreparablility of injuries and inadequacy of damages if an injunction were not granted against the damages that granting an injunction would cause.

An individual who has been given adequate notice of an injunction but fails to follow the court's orders may be punished for contempt of court.

An injunction is an equity remedy and as such is available only in cases of in-personam jurisdiction (not in in-rem proceedings). Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure explains what injuctions are and the rules regarding them. Basically, there are two types of injunctions: a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order (TRO). The purpose of both is to maintain the status quo -- to insure a plaintiff that the defendant will not either make him or herself judgment-proof, or insolvent in some way, or to stop him or her from acting in the harmful, complained-of way until further judicial proceedings are available.

There is a balancing test that courts typically employ in determining whether to issue an injunction. The defendant's 5th Amendment due process rights are weighed (heavily) against the possibility of the defendant becoming judgment-proof, and the immediacy of the harm allegedly done to the plaintiff (i.e., how badly does the plaintiff need the injunction). When it is possible, the defendant must always be put on notice of the injunction hearing, and the duration of the injunction is typically as temporary as possible. Additionally, in many jurisdictions, plaintiffs demanding an injunction are required to post a bond.

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Category: Courts and Procedure