MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case is here on review of a modified affirmance by the Court of Appeals of an order by the District Court summarily committing the petitioner for criminal contempt.
At the close of the trial, after the jury had retired for deliberation, the judge, acting under the procedure prescribed by Rule 42 (a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Court of Appeals found that four of the 12 findings amply supported the commitment, but reduced the punishment from 10 days to 48 hours. It concluded that "the
In view of this Court's "supervisory authority over the administration of criminal justice in the federal courts," McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332, 341, and the importance of assuring alert self-restraint in the exercise by district judges of the summary power for punishing contempt, we brought the case here. 347 U.S. 932.
We shall not retrace the ground so recently covered in the Sacher case, supra. In enforcing Rule 42 (a), the Court in that case emphasized its duty to safeguard two indispensable conditions to the fair administration of criminal justice: (1) counsel must be protected in the right of an accused to "fearless, vigorous and effective" advocacy, no matter how unpopular the cause in which it is employed; (2) equally so will this Court "protect the processes of orderly trial, which is the supreme object of the lawyer's calling." 343 U. S., at 13-14. Rule 42 (a) was not an innovation. It did not confer power upon district judges not possessed prior to March 21, 1946. 327 U.S. 821. "This rule," the Advisory Committee on the rules of criminal procedure stated, "is substantially a
Of course personal attacks or innuendos by a lawyer against a judge, with a view to provoking him, only aggravate what may be an obstruction to the trial. The vital point is that in sitting in judgment on such a misbehaving lawyer the judge should not himself give vent to personal spleen or respond to a personal grievance. These are subtle matters, for they concern the ingredients of what constitutes justice. Therefore, justice must satisfy the appearance of justice.
Duly mindful of the fact that the exercise of the power of summary punishment for contempt "is a delicate one and care is needed to avoid arbitrary or oppressive conclusions," this Court in Cooke v. United States, supra, without in the slightest condoning contemptuous behavior on the part of a lawyer, deemed it desirable that "where conditions do not make it impracticable, or where the delay may not injure public or private right, a judge called upon to act in a case of contempt by personal attack upon him, may, without flinching from his duty, properly
The Government has vigorously pressed upon us the leeway that must be allowed to a trial judge in assessing the necessities of such a situation. We do not mean to imprison the discretion of judges within rigid mechanical rules. The nature of the problem precludes it. Nor are we unmindful of the fact that the ultimate finding of reprehensible misconduct by petitioner was sustained by the Court of Appeals. That great weight is to be given to the findings of fact by the two lower courts is a rule of wisdom in the exercise of the reviewing power of this Court. But in the enforcement of the rule it is important to discriminate between more or less subordinate facts leading to a judgment of their legal significance, and a conclusion—though concurred in by two courts—that may in fact imply a standard of law on which judgment on the case in its entirety is based. Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665, 670-671; United States v. Appalachian Elec. Power Co., 311 U.S. 377, 403-404. We are not intimating that the Court of Appeals was not justified in finding ample support for its conclusion that the trial judge was warranted in deeming petitioner's conduct as such contemptuous. The real issue is whether under the decision of the Cooke case such a ruling should have been made by the trial judge, or whether for the very purpose of vindicating justice for which the power of summary contempt is available, the determination of petitioner's guilt and the punishment properly to be meted out on a finding of guilt should have been made in the first instance by a judge not involved, as was this trial judge, in the petitioner's misconduct.
The fact that the Court of Appeals reduced the sentence from 10 days to 48 hours because the petitioner's conduct "cannot fairly be considered apart from that of the trial judge," is compelling proof that the latter failed
It bears repeating that the whole record amply supports this characterization of the trial judge by the Court of Appeals.
The question with which we are concerned is not the reprehensibility of petitioner's conduct and the consequences which he should suffer. Our concern is with the fair administration of justice. The record discloses not a rare flare-up, not a show of evanescent irritation—a modicum of quick temper that must be allowed even judges. The record is persuasive that instead of representing the impersonal authority of law, the trial judge permitted himself to become personally embroiled with the petitioner. There was an intermittently continuous wrangle on an unedifying level between the two. For one reason or another the judge failed to impose his moral authority upon the proceedings. His behavior precluded that atmosphere of austerity which should especially dominate a criminal trial and which is indispensable for an appropriate sense of responsibility on the part of court, counsel and jury. Such an atmosphere will also make for dispatch insofar as is consonant with a fair trial. The manner in which this trial was conducted doubtless contributed to the wastefulness of 14 trial days for a case of such limited scope as was the Peckham prosecution.
We conclude that application of the rule pronounced in Cooke v. United States is called for. The fact that the Court of Appeals here reduced the sentence imposed
MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS join in the opinion of the Court and concur in the reversal and remand of the case for hearing before another judge. They would go further, however, and direct that petitioner be accorded a jury trial, for reasons set out in their dissents in Sacher v. United States, 343 U.S. 1, 14-23, and Isserman v. Ethics Committee, 345 U.S. 927.
MR. JUSTICE REED and MR. JUSTICE BURTON dissent. They would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the basis of its opinion.
MR. JUSTICE MINTON, dissenting.
This case goes back to the District Court for hearing by another judge on charges as to which, on the record, this Court admits petitioner is guilty. It is only a question of how much punishment he shall receive. Two days, under all the circumstances, did not seem too much to the Court of Appeals that reviewed the conduct of judge and counsel, nor does it to me. I would not, after Sacher, apply the Cooke case to the circumstances of this proceeding. The writ of certiorari should be dismissed as improvidently granted.
"(a) SUMMARY DISPOSITION. A criminal contempt may be punished summarily if the judge certifies that he saw or heard the conduct constituting the contempt and that it was committed in the actual presence of the court. The order of contempt shall recite the facts and shall be signed by the judge and entered of record."
"The Court: Motion denied. Proceed.
"Mr. Offutt: I object to Your Honor yelling at me and raising your voice like that.
"The Court: Just a moment. If you say another word I will have the Marshal stick a gag in your mouth." (R. 215.)
"The Court: Don't argue with the Court.
"Mr. Offutt: I am not arguing with the Court, Your Honor.
"The Court: Don't answer back to the Court, either.
"Mr. Offutt: Oh, I thought Your Honor—I am merely trying to present my point.
"The Court: Proceed with the next question.
"Mr. Offutt: Thank you, Your Honor.
"Your Honor, I object to your raising your voice like that and shouting at me, and I urge Your Honor not to do it.
"The Court: Well, you are misbehaving, Mr. Offutt.
"Mr. Offutt: And I have a right—
"The Court: And it is my function to hold the reins tight and preserve order and decorum in the courtroom.
"Mr. Offutt: But not to yell at me, Your Honor.
"And I submit I am entitled, and my duty is to make objections and to state for the record, and I am putting my objections on the record.
"The Court: You have forfeited your right to be treated with the courtesy that this Court extends to all members of the Bar." (R. 250.)