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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 ?
READERS of Feedback will have noted that on the day the EU so contemptuously dismissed Mrs May's Chequers Brexit plan it was reported that the final resting place of Captain Cook's Endeavour may have been located at Rhode Island, USA.
The spokesman added that Grigoryan, accused in this regard of violating the Geneva Conventions, contemptuously stated that he does not recognize the Geneva Conventions and is proud to be an Armenian.
But the lawyer with his men harshly and contemptuously dealt with the marriage party.
Instead over the next five weeks, whilst I jot down everything that passes my lips, I shall be found staring contemptuously at people munching away on chips, pain au chocolat, pizza and other deliciously carb-loaded delights.
"That's cool and everything," one of Pratt's followers tweeted back contemptuously, "but Doctors and nurses save lives not prayer." Many more soon followed suit, deriding the idea of prayer as not only primitive but also somehow grossly negligent: Praying, the online mob seemed to argue, is something you do when you're too inept or lazy to actually solve a problem.
Apart from issues pertaining to violation of contract by employers, there are problems relating to hassle free issuance of passports and identity cards but embassies treat overseas Pakistanis in these countries, who are mostly working class, contemptuously. It is encouraging that Interior Minister took notice of the plight of a Pakistani in Australia on a report appearing in this newspaper, yet this was just one example whereas scores of Pakistanis are humiliated daily at different Pakistani missions abroad creating frustration and resentment among them.
We may even file an administrative case, or as the 'Bigger House,' the 'Echo Chamber,' contemptuously proclaims, file disbarment cases against offending justices.
"What is journalism coming to?" he spits, contemptuously. "You're laying on top of the Queen with her legs wrapped around you.
Hillary Clinton contemptuously calls millions of workers who refuse to vote for her deplorable, even irredeemable.
Patrick Vieira's side are pretty on the eye but they were contemptuously brushed aside 3-1 when visiting New England a fortnight ago and that's a real concern for City supporters.
While claiming benefits, the married father of five spoke "contemptuously" about the democracy in which he was born and "happily" relished the idea of the Islamic flag flying over 10 Downing Street.
Labour MPs in particular, who contemptuously dismiss grassroots unrest, do so at their own peril.