Benchbook
Contempt


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Laws | Contempt

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I. CONTEMPT POWER IN GENERAL

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A. Direct Contempt vs. Constructive Contempt

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B. Criminal Contempt vs. Civil Contempt

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II. JURISDICTION OVER A CONTEMPT ACTION

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III. GENERAL ACTS OF CONTEMPT

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A. Contemptuous Utterances in Front of the Court

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B. Defamatory Publications about a Pending Suit

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C. Influencing Officers of the Court, Jurors, or Witnesses

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D. Interference with a Person or Property in Litigation

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E. Violation of Order or Decree

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IV. ACTS OF CONTEMPT BY PARTICULAR PARTIES

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A. Court Officers in General

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B. Attorneys

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C. Justices of the Peace

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D. Jurors and Prospective Jurors

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E. Persons Communicating With Jurors

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F. Spectators at Trial

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G. Witnesses

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H. Employers

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V. BURDEN OF PROOF

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VI. DIRECT CONTEMPT - SUMMARY JUDGMENT PROCEEDING

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A. Defining Direct Contempt

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B. Characteristics of a Direct Contempt Proceeding

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1. Defense to Direct Contempt

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2. Invalid Defenses to Direct Contempt

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VII. CONSTRUCTIVE CONTEMPT

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A. Defining Constructive Contempt

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B. Characteristics of a Constructive Contempt Proceeding

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1. Rights of the Alleged Contemnor

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2. Filing the Contempt Complaint

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3. Notice to the Accused: The Show Cause Order

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4. Constructive Contempt Hearing

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C. Complete Defenses to Constructive Contempt Charges

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1. Void Order

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2. Lack of Knowledge of Order

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3. Acquiescence of Complainant in Violation of Court Order

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4. Truth of Statement Charged as Contempt

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D. Incomplete Defenses/Mitigation Factors

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VIII. JUDGMENT OF CONTEMPT

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A. Requirements of a Contempt Judgment

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B. Requirement for a Written Order of Commitment

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C. Assessing Damages and Costs

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IX. PUNISHMENT

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A. Types of Punishment

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B. Statutory Limitations on Punishment

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C. Fines for the Purpose of Punishment

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D. Criminal Contempt

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E. Civil Contempt

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F. Length of Imprisonment

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G. Inability to Comply with a Court Order

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H. Combined Punitive and Coercive Sanctions

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I. Effect of Excessive Punishment

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J. Mitigating/Reducing the Punishment

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X. REVIEW OF JUDGMENT OF CONTEMPT

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A. Review of Judgment Ordering Imprisonment

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B. Review of Judgment Ordering Fine Only

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The Texas Association of Counties County Judges Education Advisory Committee has provided basic support services for producing judicial education programs for constitutional county judges and court personnel since 1984.

The goal of the Texas Association of Counties County Judges Education Advisory Committee is to develop a progressive judicial education curriculum for constitutional county judges and court personnel designed for the unique needs of new judges, experienced judges, court personnel and county judges with limited judicial responsibilities.

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Helpful Numbers

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