contempt

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contempt,

in law, interference with the functioning of a legislature or court. In its narrow and more usual sense, contempt refers to the despising of the authority, justice, or dignity of a court. A contempt of court can be classified as civil or criminal, direct or constructive. Civil and criminal contempts are distinguished by the function of the punishment—if it is to vindicate judicial authority, the contempt is criminal; if it is to enforce the rights and remedies of a party, the contempt is civil. A direct contempt is one committed in the presence of the court while it is in session. A constructive contempt is one that is committed at a distance from the court and that tends to obstruct or defeat the administration of justice. A refusal to answer a question when directed to answer by a judge is a direct criminal contempt. Disobeying an injunctioninjunction,
in law, order of a court directing a party to perform a certain act or to refrain from an act or acts. The injunction, which developed as the main remedy in equity, is used especially where money damages would not satisfy a plaintiff's claim, or to protect personal
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 or a court order that a judgment (e.g., alimonyalimony,
in law, allowance for support that an individual pays to his or her former spouse, usually as part of a divorce settlement. It is based on the common law right of a wife to be supported by her husband, but in the United States, the Supreme Court in 1979 removed its
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) be satisfied is a civil contempt. A major distinction is whether the court needs to hear evidence to determine if a contempt was committed. Direct criminal contempts may be punished summarily by fine or imprisonment; civil and constructive criminal contempts can also be punished by fine or imprisonment, but the accused must be granted a hearing. In the United States, Congress can punish for contempt of Congress behavior that occurs during legislative proceedings and that threatens its legislative power. Congress must act before it adjourns, and any imprisonment can last no longer than that session. State legislatures also have limited powers to punish for contempt.

Bibliography

See C. J. Miller, Contempt of Court (1989).

contempt

wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law or legislative body
References in classic literature ?
said my aunt, with a perfect shake on the contemptuous interjection.
This gave me power to keep them back and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss - but with a sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded - and left me.
Any one who had looked at him as the red light shone upon his pale face, strange straining eyes, and meagre form, would perhaps have understood the mixture of contemptuous pity, dread, and suspicion with which he was regarded by his neighbours in Raveloe.
Or, rather, she doesn't despise anyone in particular, but is contemptuous by nature, just as you are stout.
The mare soon after my entrance rose from her mat, and coming up close, after having nicely observed my hands and face, gave me a most contemptuous look; and turning to the horse, I heard the word YAHOO often repeated betwixt them; the meaning of which word I could not then comprehend, although it was the first I had learned to pronounce.
Presently I heard the sound of the organ; and then I began to understand Erik's contemptuous phrase when he spoke about Opera music.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark, And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark, But, when the tide rises and sharks are around, His voice has a timid and tremulous sound]
How am I to know that she will not be proud, passionate, contemptuous, and recklessly extravagant, or that her disposition will in any way suit mine?
A gentleman of the "good" century (in distinction from the "grand" century) could alone have invented that compromise between contemptuous silence and a sarcasm which might not have been understood.
Nicholson had remarked his son's entanglement with satisfaction, tinged by humour; and his smile, if it still was a thought contemptuous, had implied consent.
His reply was simply contemptuous, given in a pause in which he turned his eyes from Mrs.
Once--only once--they turned towards me, just when Zverkov was talking about Shakespeare, and I suddenly gave a contemptuous laugh.