Sunday, November 03, 2013

New Summary Contempt Rule

Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 43 has been completely rewritten effective January 1, 2014. The purpose of the new rule is "to clarify the procedures by which a judge can impose summary punishment for criminal contempt or, alternatively, refer an alleged contemnor for prosecution by complaint or indictment under Rule 44.... Amended Rule 43 resolves ambiguities concerning the prerequisites for summary punishment of contempt and the procedural steps in a summary-contempt proceeding. Further, amended Rule 43(b) explicitly recognizes discretionary authority that judges have presumably enjoyed in summary contempt proceedings, principally the common-law authority to hold an accused contemnor if necessary to maintain courtroom order or to assure his or her appearance at any subsequent proceeding."