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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).


wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law or legislative body
References in periodicals archive ?
Off it, some of its so-called stars appear so morally under-developed; arrogant man-children who contemptibly treat women as disposable perks of the job and believe vile abuse is no more than matchday banter.
As discussed above and below, Khartoum massively violated this agreement and construed its terms in ways that were contemptibly disingenuous.
King David may be a myth but it is the modern indigenous Palestinians, outcasts in their own land, who stand alone with the stone of sumud in their hands daily facing off the militant aliyah hordes backed by the Zionist Goliaths of multi-billion dollar empires, by Christian Zionist offerings, by the servile US Congress, by a depraved UK and EU and by a contemptibly inadequate United Nations.
Johnson, "I have more than once repented that I did not marry him myself, and were he but one degree less contemptibly weak I certainly should" (44).
Liberal rhetoric," Voegeli points out, "never engages in this issue: what would be the size and nature of the welfare state that was not contemptibly austere, that did not urgently need a larger budget and a broader agenda?
I meane not into the Lords roome, (which is now but the Stages Suburbs) No, those boxes by the iniquity of custome, conspiracy of waiting-women and Gentlemen-Ushers, that there sweat together, and the couetousnes of Sharers, are contemptibly thrust into the reare, and much new Satten is there dambd by being smothred to death in darknesse.
I'll do a lot to be a great political officer but this guy is behaving contemptibly and I won't stand for it.
Funny, isn't it, that you want to believe in research that makes you feel good, while investigation showing you're at death's door is contemptibly unscientific?
In Rousseau's judgment, this dual citizenship contemptibly "destroy[ed] social unity.
Much might be ruminated here, concerning the essential dignity of this regal process, because in common life we esteem but meanly and contemptibly a fellow who anoints his hair, and palpably smells of that anointing.
and after receiving their letter, (they are too contemptibly lazy to answer it.
If autonomy--or the lack of any cultural context continuous in quality and texture with the poem--and experiential richness and intensity were the primary qualities of a poem, then one might submit to the charge that there is something contemptibly superior about it, something aristocratic which is at best only an embarrassment to both its maker and its proponents in an age of plainness.