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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.


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

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wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law or legislative body
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
At the same time, Korea faces a challenge in terms of its cultural policy strategies of 'how to position itself as neither imperialistic nor contemptibly commercial' (Hong, 2014: 75).
Neill Blomkamp) whereby the contemptibly racist head of relocation operations becomes partially transmuted into an alien, discovers a functional spacecraft hidden beneath the floor of a shantytown shack (a space-time dislocation typical of the wild street), and barely escapes having his limbs consumed by cannibalistic Nigerian mafiosos eager to ingest his newfound power.
To Marlow, Kurtz "muttered irresolutely" about his erstwhile "immense plans," "pleaded in a voice of longing" about being "on the threshold of great things," expressed "abject threats" and "contemptibly childish" desires (113, 121, 116).
She flirts with the "'contemptibly weak'" Sir James Martin to "'detach him from Miss Manwaring'" (245).
After all, the proportion of revolutions that came anywhere near to realizing the aspirations of their inaugurators is contemptibly small.
O royal blood, excellent blood, noble blood, blood of great price, why so contemptibly spilled?
Which means the taxpayer is subsidising those companies which get away with paying contemptibly low wages.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon showed himself up contemptibly as outright partisan as to condone disproportionate Israeli bloodshed of the Gazans on the specious plea of self-defense while condemning Hamas for missiles' firing.
As does the term "denier'' -- an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.
From Alec Baldwin as her contemptibly corporate former husband to Bobby Cannavale as the working-class oafish boyfriend of her sister Ginger, the other characters are typical Allen caricatures.
Wagner's "stage-consecrating-festival-play" (as he called it) has been revered as superbly Christian, or dismissed as contemptibly so, or said to be about religion without being religious, or even seen as a celebration of the Aryan purity of blood on which true brotherhood is founded.
Does this mean that the current Tory-LibDem government intends to scandalously waste the time of the members of the Silk Commission (and substantial cost incurred) in the same way as the previous Labour government totally and contemptibly disregarded the work and recommendations of the Richard Commission on pretty well the same issues?