Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Contempt Worse Than Crime


An Australian Judge and How He Maintained the Dignity of His Court.

The stories of early Australian judges are numerous and incredible. The following incident, which is vouched for as a fact, is of a judge who had a very lofty idea of his own legal capacity and was, at the same time, anxious to sustain the dignity of his court. A "shooting case" came before him. There was no direct evidence as to the perpetrator of the murder, but the individual arrested was well known and indeed confessed the deed.

When brought into court, the judge cautioned the prisoner that he must remember his rights as a free citizen, and that, above all things, he must not interrupt the proceedings of the court. After this friendly warning the judge proceeded to state that he (the prisoner) was accused of having on such a date shot the deceased.

Upon this the prisoner broke in, "Well, and so I did."

The judge was annoyed at the interruption.

"Hold your tongue, sir!" he exclaimed. "Haven't I told you not to commit yourself nor interrupt me? I shall commit you for contempt of court if you do so again!" he added sternly.

He then repeated the accusation, upon which the prisoner broke in:

"I have told ye afore that I killed" —

The judge's indignation was intense at this second interruption, and he demanded, "Mr. Sheriff, what is your evidence?"

I have nothing but circumstantial evidence, your honor, and the prisoner's own confession."

"Then," said the judge, "I discharge the prisoner on this accusation, but commit him for contempt of court." — Pittsburg Dispatch.

No comments: