Contempt, * crim. law. A wilful disregard or disobedience of a public authoritoy.

2. By the Constitution of the United States, each house of congress may determine the rules of its proceeding's, punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member. The same provision is substantially contained in the constitutions of the several states.

3. The power to make rules carries that of enforcing them, and to attach persons who violate them, and punish them for contempts. This power of punishing for contempts, is confined to punishment during the session of the legislature, and cannot extend beyond it; 6 Wheat. R. 204, 230, 231 and, it seems this power cannot be exerted beyond imprisonment.

4. Courts of justice have an inherent power to punish all persons for contempt of their rules and orders, for disobedience of their process, and for disturbing them in their proceedings. Bac. Ab. Courts and their jurisdiction in general, E; Rolle's Ab. 219; 8 Co. 38 11 Co. 43 b.; 8 Shepl. 550; 5 Ired. R. 199.

5. In some states, as in Pennsylvania, the power to punish for contempts is restricted to offences committed by the officers of the court, or in its presence, or in disobedience of its mandates, orders, or rules; but no one is guilty of a contempt for any publication made or act done out of court, which is not in violation of such lawful rules or orders, or disobedience of its process. Similar provisions, limiting the power of the courts of the United States to punish for contempts, are incorporated in the Act March 2, 1831. 4 Sharsw. cont. of Stor. L. U. S. 2256. See Oswald's Case, 4 Lloyd's Debates, 141,. et seq.

6. When a person is in prison for a contempt, it has been decided in New York that he cannot be discharged by another judge, when brought before him on a habeas corpus; and, according to Chancellor Kent, 3 Com. 27, it belongs exclusively to the court offended to judge of contempts, and what amounts to them; and no other court or judge can, or ought to undertake, in a collateral way, to question or review an adjudication of a contempt made by another competent jurisdiction. This way be considered as the establisbed doctrine equally in England as in this country. 3 Wils. 188 14 East, R. 12 Bay, R. 182 6 Wheat. R. 204 7 Wheat. R. 38; 1 Breese, R. 266 1 J. J. Marsh. 575; Charlt. R. 136; 1 Blackf. 1669 Johns. 395 6 John. 337.

* From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. Please see Bouvier's Legal Abbreviations & Abbreviated References for help with obscure nomenclature & references.

« Definitions Cont to Cor

« Legal Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H
I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P
Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y