2011 Connecticut Code
Title 51 Courts
Chapter 871 Courts
Sec. 51-33. Punishment for contempt of court.

      Sec. 51-33. Punishment for contempt of court. Any court, including a family support magistrate, may punish by fine and imprisonment any person who in its presence behaves contemptuously or in a disorderly manner; but no court or family support magistrate may impose a greater fine than one hundred dollars or a longer term of imprisonment than six months or both.

      (1949 Rev., S. 7702; 1959, P.A. 28, S. 82; P.A. 82-248, S. 16; P.A. 89-360, S. 19, 45.)

      History: 1959 act deleted provision that justice of the peace is not to inflict fine of more than $7 or term of imprisonment greater than 30 days; P.A. 82-248 changed "shall inflict" to "may impose" and added "or both" after "months"; P.A. 89-360 added references to family support magistrates.

      This section does not apply to contempts by disobedience to the decrees of a court of chancery. 38 C. 121; 102 C. 357. Punishment of contempt by fine and imprisonment is not properly a criminal proceeding. 43 C. 267. Statute applies to courts created after its passage. Id. The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts, independently of statute law. Id., 268. Adjudication of contempt not reviewable, when. 44 C. 409. Contempts not committed in the presence of the court are to be ascertained and punished according to the common law. 48 C. 196; 52 C. 156. What constitutes a civil and what a criminal contempt. Id., 155; 147 C. 167. Contempt distinguished from power to commit witnesses for refusal to answer. 65 C. 32. Power of justice to punish for contempt not committed in his presence, quaere. 75 C. 350. Court having no criminal jurisdiction may punish for contempt. 80 C. 671. To deceive court by untruthful statements as to purpose of offering testimony is a contempt. 84 C. 62. Applies to town courts. 82 C. 265. Nature of proceedings for and procedure in general. Id., 262; 84 C. 60. Judgment should contain the facts upon which the conclusion of contempt is based. 147 C. 167. Criminal contempt held not to constitute true criminal offense. Id. Held that contemptuous statements in writing submitted to the court can constitute a contempt in the presence of the court. 148 C. 77. Even if the warning given the accused by the court could be distorted into an adjudication that he would not be found in contempt, that adjudication remained subject to change during the course of the trial. Id. Statements made in a motion for disqualification of a judge held to constitute a contempt of court. Id. As long as the punishment is kept within the prescribed term the court's jurisdiction to impose such punishment summarily is clear and does not offend due process guarantees. This section neither expressly nor impliedly repealed by Sec. 51-33a; both are operative. 186 C. 256. Where contemptuous conduct is committed in the presence of the court, punishment may be announced summarily and a writ of error is the sole method to review such a summary criminal contempt citation. 189 C. 663, 666. Cited. 191 C. 110. Cited. 197 C. 566. Cited. 207 C. 456. Cited. 214 C. 344. Trial court authorized to sentence plaintiff to an aggregate sentence greater than six months based on three separate incidents of contemptuous conduct. 221 C 498. Cited. 222 C. 591. Cited. 225 C. 355. Cited. 230 C. 698. Cited. 241 C. 569. Trial court improperly determined plaintiff could no longer invoke privilege against self-incrimination and improperly held him in contempt for refusing to answer questions at the criminal trial of codefendant based on plaintiff's previous waiver of the privilege at his own criminal trial. 259 C. 487.

      Court is authorized to impose sentence of six months' imprisonment for criminal contempt where defendant's use of profanity in open court disrupts court proceedings, reflects disobedience to court's order to be silent and imposes an indignity on authority of the court. 88 CA 599.

      Contempt in constructive presence of court discussed. 36 CS 547. Until trial court's summary adjudication of contempt is challenged by writ of error, a presumption of finality is accorded to trial judge's exercise of discretion in dealing with contemptuous conduct in his presence. Id., 550.


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