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Armstrong claimed that he did not have the assets, and his repeated inability to produce them resulted in him being jailed for seven years on contempt of court charges. In April , Armstrong was sentenced to five years in jail after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to hide trading losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

DEFINITION of 'Contempt of Court'

He was released from prison in March Exponential growth in the use of online tools and social media has resulted in new challenges for the justice system. In order to ensure juror impartiality and avoid the possibility of a mistrial, the courts have always instructed jurors to refrain from seeking information about cases apart from evidence introduced at trial, and also to avoid communication about a case before a verdict is reached.

A Reuters Legal study in found that since , at least 90 verdicts in the United States have been the subject of challenges because of Internet-related misconduct by jurors. In the past, jurors have been jailed for contempt of court for using the Internet while serving on the jury. In , a juror in the United Kingdom was jailed for eight months — becoming the first juror in the country to be prosecuted for Internet-related contempt of court — after she exchanged messages with a defendant on Facebook, causing a multi-million pound trial to collapse.

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In , two jurors in the UK were jailed for two months on contempt of court charges, after one of them made comments on Facebook about the defendant, while the other conducted online research on the case he was involved in as a juror. A subpoena is a formal written order issued by a court that requires A bail bond is a written promise signed by a defendant and surety Common law in a body of unwritten laws based on precedents established Ipso is following the Press Council template by opting for judicial leadership, says Roy Greenslade.

The frenzied dissection of the witnesses' testimony in the Grillo sisters' fraud trial held up all concerned to public mockery. Tommy Robinson to remain in jail as judges consider appeal. The legal fallout of the s scandal cast a veil of secrecy over the British jury system, says human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson.


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EDL founder Tommy Robinson jailed for contempt of court. Police assess contempt claims over Tommy Robinson videos. Interviews meant for broadcast after Darren Osborne trial ended were broadcast live on Facebook. Inquiry into social media messages that may identify Jon Venables. Fresh investigation launched into potential breach of injunction preventing killer of James Bulger being identified.

Similarly, individuals who have refused to provide courts with information have been held in jail—sometimes for years—under contempt charges. In Maryland, a woman involved in a custody battle with her ex-husband refused to reveal the whereabouts of her child. Elizabeth Morgan spent 25 months in jail before her ex-husband dropped the custody case and it was revealed that the child was staying with Morgan's parents in New Zealand.

Journalist Myron Farber, of the New York Times , spent more than three years in jail for refusing to turn over notes that prosecutors sought for a murder trial. Judges and scholars have defended the practices of indefinite jail time because the contemnor "carries the keys to his prison in his own pocket" and can be released by complying with the court In re Nevitt , F. Civil contempt proceedings end when the suit from which they arose is resolved.

"Contempt Of Court" Defined & Explained

Criminal contempt continues as a separate matter. Settlements may involve jail time, fines, or other retribution. For instance, when the Cable News Network CNN was found guilty of contempt of court for airing audiotapes related to the trial of Manuel Noriega, the deposed president of Panama, the network was given the choice of airing a retraction and an apology for using the tapes or paying a large fine. The network made the apology. The Constitution does not explicitly grant Congress the power to coerce cooperation from individuals or to punish acts of disobedience or disrespect through contempt proceedings.

However, the power was discussed at the Constitutional Convention and was implied in the Constitution. In , Congress used the power of contempt for the first time when it arrested, tried, and punished a man accused of bribing members of the House of Representatives.

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Then Congress acted on its own authority—subsequently called the Self-Help power, which grants Congress the right to compel testimony and punish disobedience without the involvement of a court or other government body if the individual's actions obstruct the legislative process. By , the Supreme Court recognized Congress's power to arrest and punish individuals for contempt. In , Congress created a statute governing prosecution for contempt, which shifted the responsibility for determining contempt from Congress itself to the courts.

Until , Congress largely ignored this criminal statute and continued to compel testimony and deal with contemnors through its own power. In the late twentieth century, the Supreme Court noted, "Congress has practically abandoned its original practice of utilizing the coercive self-help sanction of contempt proceedings at the bar of the House" Watkins v.

United States , U. Under the criminal statute, Congress must petition the U. The case is then tried in federal court. Most contempt citations arise from Congress's investigatory powers. In its decisions since World War II , the Supreme Court has outlined requirements that Congress must meet before it can compel testimony.


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The investigation must have a valid legislative purpose. It must be conducted by a committee or subcommittee of the House of Representatives or Senate, or the authority of the investigating body must be clearly defined in a resolution. The questions asked of witnesses must be pertinent to the subject of inquiry. Contempt proceedings cannot be used to harass an individual or organization. Finally, before individuals can be held in contempt, they must willfully default, either by failing to appear before the investigating body or by refusing to answer pertinent questions.

Congress's contempt power has come into conflict with the First Amendment in several cases. The first of these cases was Barenblatt v. Barenblatt was convicted of contempt then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the questions violated his First Amendment right to freedom of association. The Court, in a 5—4 decision, supported Barenblatt.


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  7. The Court stated that the questions were too vague to support a contempt citation and that Congress's investigative powers must be balanced against First Amendment rights. The conflict between Congress's investigative powers and the First Amendment surfaced again in when Nina Totenberg, a National Public Radio correspondent, refused to answer questions of a Senate special counsel about how she obtained confidential documents related to the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.

    Totenberg had earlier revealed that the Senate Judiciary Committee was looking into accusations that Thomas had sexually harassed members of his staff. The charges led to public testimony by law professor anita hill.

    Civil Contempt of Court

    A Senate special counsel asked to have Totenberg held in contempt when she refused to reveal who leaked information about the charges to her. The request was denied by the Senate Rules Committee because of its potential "chilling effect on the media. Congress also has used the contempt power in conflicts with private parties and the Executive Branch of government. For instance, business partners of Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines, produced documents for the House Foreign Affairs Committee only under threat of contempt citations.

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    Watt, former secretary of the interior, was charged with contempt by a congressional committee in the early s when, citing Executive Privilege , he refused to release Interior Department documents. On April 12, , President William Jefferson Clinton became the first sitting president in United States history to be held in contempt of court. The contempt charge against President Clinton stemmed from a deposition he gave in connection with a Sexual Harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones. Clinton , F.