That being said, bankruptcy may wipe out (discharge) the underlying debt (the judgment), but you will most likely have to pay the fine associated with the bench warrant.
There is a wonderful case from 2001 called In Re Goodman, 277 B.R. 839 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 2001), which discusses in detail whether or not a creditor can use a civil arrest warrant against a debtor after the debtor has filed bankruptcy.
Short answer: the automatic stay stops ANY collection efforts, including the bench warrant.
In the Goodman opinion, the court’s Conclusions of Law clearly lay out why the warrant cannot be used:
The automatic stay, which goes into effect upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, serves as broad protection against interference with the bankruptcy estate. Among its effects is to bar “the enforcement, against the debtor or against property of the estate, of a judgment obtained before the commencement of the [bankruptcy] case.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(2). However, it does not apply to “the commencement or continuation of a criminal action or proceeding against the debtor.” Id. § 362(b)(1). Therefore, the first step in this analysis is to determine whether the arrest warrant in this case was criminal or civil in nature.
The warrant in this case is in the nature of civil contempt. A contempt order that allows the debtor to purge himself of contempt, as the warrant here does, is civil in nature. In re Maloney, 204 B.R. 671, 674 (Bankr.E.D.N.Y.1996). Also supporting a conclusion that the warrant is a *842 civil contempt remedy are the facts that “it was initiated by a private party, to coerce the Debtor’s compliance with his duty to provide discovery responses.” Atkins v. Martinez (In re Atkins), 176 B.R. 998, 1007 (Bankr.D.Minn.1994).
As a civil contempt remedy, the arrest warrant would appear to fall within the scope of Section 362(a)(2). However, some courts have held that the civil contempt penalty in question was issued to uphold the dignity of the court and therefore was not stayed in bankruptcy. Stovall v. Stovall, 126 B.R. 814, 816 (N.D.Ga.1990); Rogers v. Overstreet (In re Rogers), 164 B.R. 382, 391-92 (Bankr.N.D.Ga.1994). The warrant in this case specifically states that it is issued for that purpose. But it is also being used as a coercive tool to enforce a judgment, as evidenced by the fact that Debtor could purge himself of the contempt by complying with the March 27 order. See Siskin v. Complete Aircraft Servs., Inc. (In re Siskin), 231 B.R. 514, 519 (Bankr.E.D.N.Y.1999). The very fact that it was issued at Albany’s request also suggests that its purpose is to enforce a judgment. Mitchell Constr. Co. v. Smith (In re Smith), 180 B.R. 311, 319 (Bankr.N.D.Ga.1995); Atkins, 176 B.R. at 1006.
Albany would have this Court dissect the purposes behind the warrant and hold that to the extent it is used to force Debtor to comply with their efforts to enforce a judgment, it is controlled by the automatic stay, but to the extent it issued due to Debtor’s disregard for the authority of the superior court, the automatic stay does not apply. However, these purposes are inextricably intertwined and cannot be severed. Debtor may purge his contempt and avoid incarceration by answering interrogatories and paying the attorney fees. Albany’s position would require Debtor either to forego the option of purging contempt or to forego the protection of the automatic stay. Therefore, even if the warrant were based on Debtor’s disrespect for the superior court, it is still being used as a collection device. As a result, the Court concludes that the arrest warrant is covered by the automatic stay.
The automatic stay goes into effect by operation of law, so it is not the Court’s responsibility to issue a duplicate injunction to prevent execution of the warrant. The burden is on the creditor to ensure that it does not violate the automatic stay. Smith, 180 B.R. at 319. The Bankruptcy Code provides a remedy to Debtor if Albany fails to meet its burden. 11 U.S.C. § 362(h). Therefore, Albany must take steps to ensure the warrant is not executed. Siskin, 231 B.R. at 519 (finding that the creditors “had an affirmative obligation to ensure that the outstanding Warrant of Arrest was not enforced”); Smith, 180 B.R. at 319 (finding the creditor in violation of the automatic stay due to *843 its failure to act to nullify a contempt order).
In conclusion, the Court holds that the automatic stay prevents execution of the arrest warrant issued by the superior court for Debtor’s civil contempt because it was issued to aid in the collection of a judgment. Therefore, a permanent injunction is unnecessary. Furthermore, as the creditor seeking to collect that judgment, Albany has a duty to take affirmative steps to ensure that, so long as the automatic stay is in effect, Debtor is not arrested under that warrant.