Tag: criminal contempt
  • Smartphones, YouTube, and criminal contempt

    Earlier this week, a spectator at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial was found guilty of contempt of court for posting recordings to YouTube of the closing arguments.  A Pennsylvania trial court judge sentenced the spectator to 50 hours of community service for her actions.  She admitted she violated a court order, but apparently she had been willing to take the risk.  According to ABC News, she “viewed Cosby’s celebrated sexual assault trial as the ‘one time’ she might produce a viral online video.” Pennsylvania courts have some pretty strict rules about recording trials. For this high-profile case in particular, though, the court had also entered a specific decorum order barring any recording or any communication from any device within the courtroom.

    Of course, all this happened in the context of Pennsylvania court rules. So let’s look at whether a smartphone-wielding spectator in a North Carolina trial (civil or criminal) could be subject to a contempt order for similar behavior.  I believe the answer is yes, under the right circumstances. Continue Reading

  • The Clerk’s Contempt Authority


    **UPDATE: Effective July 21, 2017, Session Law 2017-158 expands the clerk’s civil contempt authority. The clerk now has the authority to exercise civil contempt in any instance when the clerk has original subject matter jurisdiction and issued the order that is the basis for the civil contempt in addition to any instance where a statute expressly provides for the clerk’s civil contempt authority.  See S.L. 2017-158, Sec. 11.**

    Continue Reading
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