Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    Disobedience of court orders or breach of decorum of a court. See 85 Cal. 603, 20 Am. St. Rep. 248, 25 Pac. 256.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    Contumacy; a wlllful disregard of the authority of a court of justico or legislative body or disobedience to its lawful orders. Contempt of court is committed by a person who does any act in willful contravention of its authority or dignity, or tending to impede or frustrate the administration of justice, or by one who, being under the court's authority as a party to a proceeding therein, willfully disobeys its lawful orders or faila to comply with an undertaking which he has given. Welch v. Barbee, 52 Conn. 147, 52 Am. Rep. 567; Lyon v. Lyon, 21 Conn. 198; Kissel v. Lewis, 27 Ind. App. 302, 61 N. E. 209; Yates v. Lansing, 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 395, 6 Am. Dee, 290; Stuart v. People, 4 111. 395; Gandy v. State, 13 Neb. 445, 14 N. W. 143. Classification. Contempts are of two kinds, direct and constructive. Direct contempts are those committed in the immediate view and presence of the court (such as insulting language or acts of violence) or so near the presence of the court as to obstruct or interrupt the due and orderly course of proceedings. These are punishable summarily. They are also calied "criminal" contempts, but that term is better used in contrast with "civil" contempla. See infra. Ex parte Wright, 65 Ind. 508; State v. McClaugherty, 33 W. Va. 250, 10 S. E. 407; State v. Shepherd, 177 Mo. 205, 76 S. W. 79, 99 Am. St. Rep. 624; Indianapolis Water Co. v. American Strawboard Co. (C. C.) 75 Fed. 975; In re Dili, 32 Kan. 668, 5 Pan. 39, 49 Am. Rep. 505; State v. Hansford, 48 W. Va. 773, 28 S. E. 791; Androscoggin & K. R. Co. v. Androscoggin R. Co., 49 Me. 392. Constructive (or indirect) contempts are those which arise from matters not occurring in or near the presence of the court, but which tend to obstruct or defeat the administration of justice, and the term is chiefly used with reference to the failure or refusal of a party to obey a lawful order, injunction, or decree of the court laying upon him a duty of action or forbearance. Androscoggin & K. R. Co., v. Androscoggin R. Co, 49 Me. 392; Cooper v. People, 13 Colo. 337, 22 Pac. 790, 6 L. R. A. 430; Stuart v. People, 4 111. 395; McMakin v. McMakin, 68 Mo. App. 57. Constructive contempts were formerly calied "consequential," and this term is still in occasional use. Contempts are also classed as civil or criminal. The former are those quasi contempts which consist in the fnilure to do something which the party is ordered by the court to do for the benefit or advantage of another party to the proceeding bsfore the court, while criminal contempts are acts done in disrespect of the court or its process or which obstruct the administration of justice or tend to bring the court into disrespect. A civil contempt is not an offense against the dignity of the court, but against the party in whose behalf the mandate of the court was issued, and a fine is imposed for his indemnity. But criminal contempts are offenses or injuries offered to the court, and a fine or imprisonment is imposed upon the contemnor for the purpose of punishment. Wyatt v. People, 17 Colo. 252, 28 Pac. 961; People v. McKane, 78 Hun, 154, 28 N. Y. Supp. 981; Schreiber v. Mfg. Co., 18 App. Div. 158, 45 N. Y. Supp. 442; Eaton Rapids v. Homer, 126 Mich 52, 85 N. W. 264 ; In re Nevitt, 117 Fed. 448, 54 C. C. A. 622; State v. Shepherd, 177 Mo. 205, 76 S. W. 79, 99 Am. St. Rep. 624.