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Matter of Contempt of Greenberg

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
849 F.2d 1251 (1988)


Facts

Stanley I. Greenberg (defendant) was counsel for a criminal defendant in federal district court. During the prosecution’s closing argument, Greenberg objected to the prosecutor’s alleged mischaracterization of a previous objection by Greenberg. The district judge told Greenberg that his present objection was improper and that he should sit down. Greenberg stated that he disagreed with the judge. The judge told Greenberg that he was not being respectful and would be in trouble. Greenberg then asked for a ruling, and the judge told Greenberg to sit down. Greenberg asked again for a ruling, and the judge told him to sit down and be quiet. Greenberg then sat down. Following a recess, the judge found Greenberg in criminal contempt and fined him $500. This constituted a conviction in a summary contempt proceeding under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure (Rule) 42(a) [now 42(b)]. In his recounting of the incident before imposing the fine, the judge stated that there “was a slamming of something” during Greenberg’s objections. Subsequently, the judge filed an order of contempt in which he recounted the incident, but did not certify that he saw or heard the conduct constituting the contempt or that the conduct was committed in the actual presence of the court, as required by Rule 42(a) [now 42(b)]. Greenberg appealed, arguing that the judge erred by not certifying to seeing or hearing the contemptuous conduct and that the incident did not constitute contemptuous conduct.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Pregerson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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