Talk:Contempt of court

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Canada / Provincial Courts[edit]

Could someone familiar with this jurisdiction rewrite this section:

"Different procedures exist for different provincial courts. For example, in BC, Justice of Peace can only issue summon to the offender for Contempt, for which will be dealt with by a judge, even if the offence was done at the face of the Justice.[4]"

As it stands now, it is completely incoherent. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:02, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

A criminal offence?[edit]

As per the edit discussion between myself and Silverhelm, is contempt of court a criminal offence in English Law? I don't believe that it is; the power to penalise for it arises not as a sentencing power but from either (a) the inherent common law jurisdiction of a court of record or (b) the Magistrates' statutory power in section 12 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, which as far as I know does not create a criminal offence (though I haven't seen the text itself).

Silverhelm points out that "the statement is explicitly contradicted by other parts of the article". I presume that he/she is referring to mention of such things as "criminal contempt of court" and "criminal proceedings" later in the article, but neither of these is truly an explicit contradiction. It may be that those references will have to be reviewed as well. --Ross UK 18:44, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

This seems to be related so I'm talking here instead of a separate thread. I believe the paragraph:

In English law (a common law jurisdiction) the law on contempt is partly set out in case law, and partly specified in the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Contempt may be a criminal or civil offence.

contradicts the sentence:

Contempt of court is not a criminal offence in English law.

Hence I added the {{contradict}} template. -- Paddu 19:35, 4 May 2007 (UTC)


Not mentioned in the article is that many contempt of court charges and hearing seem to violate the legal principle nemo iudex in sua causa, no man shall be a judge in his own cause, as the judge/court subject to the contempt also punishes the contempt - the same is true with some parliaments and Contempt of Parliament, but not with the U.S. and Contempt of Congress (which requires a conviction by a jury, not by congress). - Matthew238 03:55, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

About completeness[edit]

This article only deals with the contempt of court in the UK and USA, ignoring many countries which do practice common law. Hope someone will add contempt of court in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RekishiEJ (talkcontribs) 04:29, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Also not mentioned[edit]

Nowhere in the article does it directly deal with the most common form of Contempt of court: Refusal to testify under a subpoena. It's of course been in the headlines recently with Barry Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson who was repeatedly sent to prison for refusing to testify under a court order in the BALCO steroids investigation as far as Bonds was concerned and was suddenly ordered to be released from jail once his testimony was no longer needed for legal proceedings. I think this a very significant topic not being addressed here, with or without said example.

- Alan (talk) 13:51, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Punishment for contempt[edit]

The article states that in Canada a person who is found to be in contempt can "be imprisoned for a period of less than five years or until the person complies with the order". Can anyone clairify a little?

Does that mean the person can be held for as long as he refuses to comply, up to a maximum of five years? Or does it mean that, having refused to comply with an order of the court, the person has committed a crime punishable by up to five years imprisionment, but that he can continue to be held indefinately even after that period if he remains in defiance of the order (the contempt has not been purged)?

Stevecudmore (talk) 16:27, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

As a canadian citizen with a lawyer for a mother, my understanding is that so long as you refuse to testify to the court, you can be held (up to the 5 year limit) - as soon as you rescind your refusal and agree to testify, you are released from custody. However, one assumes that you would only refuse to testify if you were about to have to incriminate yourself, so I suppose it might prove fruitless and end with you imprisoned anyhow. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

sub judice[edit]

should be mentioned, as its redirected here —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:17, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Scandalizing the court?[edit]

In Singapore, the government has recently decided to charge the Wall Street Journal with contempt of court for writing articles about a court case (to which the WSJ is not a party), and their "Media Background Brief" states:

Another form of contempt consists of attacks on the

independence or integrity of the court or judges. In this regard, anything done or published that is calculated to bring a court or a judge of the court into contempt or to lower his authority is a contempt of court. This form of contempt is commonly referred to as ‘scandalising the court’."

The current WP article doesn't say anything about such a thing. Does the concept exist outside Singapore? Jpatokal (talk) 10:23, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, organizations have been charged with 'scandalising the court' in Hong Kong and UK. See judgement from The Secretary for Justice v. The Oriental Press Group Ltd. and Others (23/06/1998, HCMP407/1998).
Quote from the judgement:
"A civilised community cannot survive without effective machinery for the enforcement of its laws. The task of enforcing those laws falls on the courts, and on the judges who preside over them. It has always been regarded as vital to the rule of law for respect for the judiciary to be maintained and for their dignity to be upheld. If it were otherwise, public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined, and the law itself would fall into disrepute. That is the rationale for the branch of the law of contempt known as "scandalising the court"." --Cahk (talk) 04:42, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

The intro needs attention[edit]

"Contempt of court is a court ruling ......." is not correct. Contempt of court is the act of denigrating/defying (whatever) a court in some way. A judge (whatever) may rule that a defendant (whatever) is in contempt of court . But contempt of court is not a court ruling. Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 03:06, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Fine Allocation[edit]

The article (nor any pages currently findable through Google) indicate what exactly happens to the fines levied for contempt-of-court. It would be handy if someone could add something about where the fines—usually—go (eg to the judge, to the court-house’s operating expenses, to the city’s budget, etc.) It is particularly useful to know in regards to judges that are like those seen on TV that are quick to anger and liberal with their use of fines. Synetech (talk) 13:12, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

News Media[edit]

I removed the following unsourced, questionable material, especially as it was not relevant to the section "News Media" where it was posted:

Contempt of court is rarely enforceable against an individual, and will never attach prior to a conviction as there are two doors in American law with which to challenge a judges order on merits. The first is the front door and by appealing to a higher court. The second is by directly disobeying the order on merits. Many are jailed by order of a judge alone which is in and of itself criminal as a bill of attainder.citation needed It is the state's burden to establish its orders within both its jurisdiction and valid law. Either may be challenged prior to or following any order, judgment or opinion. It is the right of the individual then to challenge the action and take it to a jury to scrutinize the validity of the action as a matter of right. Any order lacking the authority of law and jurisdiction is void and may be challenged as such.
Blacks 6th ed, p 1067 The state or condition of being void; w/o legal effect or stats. Also, the act which produces such effect. see void. Jury in criminal cases possess de facto power of "nullification, to acquit defendant regardless of strength of evidence against him. Cargil v St 255 ga 616 340 SE2 891, 914
Our Founders by the sixth and seventh amendment have stripped the power of the sword from the judiciary and placed it in the hands of a jury of peers. A right to be exercised any time that one may question the actions of his government officials and lay the law down in front of them.
"Since the day the ink dried on the Bill of Rights, "[t]he right of an American citizen to criticize public officials and policies . . . is 'the central meaning of the First Amendment.'" Glasson v. City of Louisville, 518 F.2d 899, 904 (6th Cir. 1975)
Contempt of court is a direct challenge in law to the dignity of the bench. The court is merely the record. When the charge fails, the dignity is lost.

Some of this appears to be partly unsourced opinion and partly a discussion of the concept of jury nullification, similarly unsourced. Some looks like it was lifted wholesale from somewhere else. Some of it isn't even coherent: what does "The court is merely the record. When the charge fails, the dignity is lost" even mean? I can't see how it's relevant to the section where I found it: it seems to have simply been thrown in there and not noticed by any change patrollers. I'll be happy to see it re-inserted if it can be sourced and placed relevantly. Bring on those sources, people!

*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 06:09, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Florence Hartmann[edit]

I think this page should also summarise the Florence Hartmann case, since it shows how the charge ‘contempt of court’ can be abused. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:25, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

It is contempt of court to bring an audio recording device or picture-taking device of any sort into an English court without the consent of the court[edit]

While it is an offence to use one I am not sure permission is required to simply have one in your bag or pocket. If it were then a smart phone would definitely break the rule.--Kitchen Knife (talk) 21:47, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

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Burden in civil contempt[edit]

I'm having trouble with the statement that "The burden of proof for civil contempt, however, is a preponderance of the evidence", categorically, in the United States. Federal courts of appeal have found that the standard is clear and convincing evidence. See, e.g., Petroleos Mexicanos v. Crawford Enterprises, Inc., 826 F.2d 392, 401 (5th Cir. 1987) ("The movant in a civil contempt proceeding bears the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence . . .") (emphasis added); U.S. v. Koblitz, 803 F.2d 1523, 1527 (11th Cir. 1986) ("A civil contempt order can only be upheld if it is supported by clear and convincing evidence . . ."). Secondary sources, of course, confirm. [1] [2]. Best, Kevin (aka L235 · t · c) 19:37, 24 June 2017 (UTC)