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Ex parte Daniels

Texas Court of Appeals
722 S.W.2d 707 (1987)


Facts

Pamela Daniels (plaintiff) filed a writ of habeas corpus challenging her 30-day confinement following a conviction for criminal contempt of court. Daniels appeared pro se before Judge Max Boyer and was involved in an argument with the judge, who ordered her to leave the courtroom and not return until she obtained counsel. Daniels did not leave immediately, and the bailiff was ordered to escort her out. Daniels went peacefully with the bailiff until they reached the courtroom door, when she allegedly tried to strike the master of the court in the head with her purse and had to be subdued by the bailiff, who threw her against the wall. Approximately four hours later, the judge ordered Daniels brought before him for a summary contempt proceeding. Daniels was not appointed counsel, but instead continued pro se. The judge found Daniels to be in direct criminal contempt and ordered her to be jailed for 30 days and to pay $33 in court costs. Daniels found counsel and appealed, arguing that her confinement was illegal because she was denied counsel during the contempt proceedings. Daniels argued that because the judge did not see much of the allegedly contemptuous activity, the alleged contempt was constructive rather than direct, and she was therefore entitled to counsel. A brief by the judge stated that while the judge had no knowledge of the attempt to assault the master of the court, the judge was aware that Daniels had done something disruptive at the courtroom’s door.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McCormick, J.)

Dissent (Clinton, J.)

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