Contempt Power Law and Legal Definition

Contempt power means the power of public institutions such as Congress or a court to punish persons who show contempt for the process, orders, or proceedings of that institution.

The contempt power aims to provide a means for a judge to uphold the dignity of the judicial process. This dignity is upheld in two related but distinct ways: a. by imposing punishment a judge makes a statement that what was done was improper and discourages others from engaging in similar acts; and b. the act of imposing punishment serves the purpose of maintaining control of the proceedings in the person of the judge. [ Johnson v. State, 100 Md. App. 553, 642 A.2d 259 (1994)].

Pursuant to 18 USCS § 401, “a court of the United States shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, or both, at its discretion, such contempt of its authority, and none other, as:

(1) Misbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice;

(2) Misbehavior of any of its officers in their official transactions;

(3) Disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command.”