RECIPES FOR DIRECT CONTEMPT

October 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

We visited the various types of contempt and how the court addresses them in a previous post.

Here are some examples of direct criminal contempt that the courts have recognized:

  • Foul or threatening language or physical assault. Lamar v. State, 607 So.2d 129 (Miss. 1992). Note that the misconduct in Lamar took place in the foyer of a court room. Also, Varvaris v. State, 512 So.2d 886, 887-88 (Miss. 1987).
  • Language insulting to or in ridicule of the court. In re Smith, 926 So.2d 878, 883 (Miss. 2006). Also, Miss. Bar v. Lumumba, 912 So.2d 871, 880-82 (Miss. 2005). See, also UCCR 1.01. 
  • Outrageous dress or costume may be contemptuous, but only after a warning to correct the offense. 17 Am. Jur. 2d Contempt §56.
  • Refusal to answer questions on the witness stand is contemptuous if no privilege applies. Hentz v. State, 496 So.2d 668, 675 (Miss. 1986).
  • Disrespectful language in a motion or in argument may be found to be contempt, but if the language is personally insulting to the judge, he should recuse and allow another judge to adjudicate it as constructive criminal contempt. Purvis v. Purvis, 657 So.2d 794, 797 (Miss. 1995). 
  • Tardiness or failure to appear at the appointed time. Wyssbrod v. Wittjen, 798 So.2d 352 (Miss. 2001). See, also UCCR 1.05.
  • Arriving late for a hearing, even though the attorney had a conflict with another court-scheduled matter, where the attorney did not notify the second court of the conflict and request a rescheduling. Alviers v. Bay St. Louis, 576 So.2d 1256, 1257 (Miss. 1991).
  • Refusal to attend a court-ordered proceeding without justifiable cause. In re Hampton, 919 So.2d 949, 955 (Miss. 2006).
  • Contumacious objections that show a refusal to accept the rulings of the court may be contempt, although it is improper for the court to threaten contempt for a single, timely objection. Young v. State, 679 So.2d 198, 205 (Miss. 1996).
  • Refusal to produce documents in violation of a court order to do so, where no provilege applies. Morgan v. Thomas, 448 F.2d 1256 (5th Cir. 1971). Note that this may also be dealt with as civil contempt.
  • Drunkenness in the court room that interferes with the court. Neely v. State, 98 Miss. 816, 54 So.2d 315 (1911). 
  • Subornation of perjury. 17 Am. Jur. 2d Contempt §79. But, see Corr v. State, where a false affidavit filed with the clerk for return of process was held to be indirect contempt.

§ 4 Responses to RECIPES FOR DIRECT CONTEMPT

  • thusbloggedanderson says:

    I like that: only drunkenness that interferes with the court is contemptuous! Hold your liquor, ladies and gentlemen.

    • Larry says:

      I chuckled at that myself. It may not be contempt, but it sure ain’t smart.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        I mentioned your post to an older lawyer, who was reminded of Judge Warner out your way, who fined attorneys arriving late for hearings. One day Judge Warner forgot about his docket, went fishing, and at the next sitting of his court (after he’d learned of the error), officially fined himself.

      • Larry says:

        That is actually true. Really happened. Fined himself $100, left the bench and went into the clerk’s office, paid the fine, got his receipt, and resumed the bench.

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