CRAIG V. HARNEY, 331 U. S. 367 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367 (1947)

Craig v. Harney

No. 241

Argued January 9, 1947

Decided May 19, 1947

331 U.S. 367


1. The publication in a newspaper of news articles, which unfairly reported events in a case pending in a state court, and an editorial which vehemently attacked the trial judge (a layman elected for a short term) while a motion for a new trial was pending, did not, in the circumstances of this case, constitute a clear and present danger to the administration of justice, and the conviction of the newspapermen for contempt violated the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Following Bridges v. California, 314 U. S. 252, and Pennekamp v. Florida, 328 U. S. 331. Pp. 331 U. S. 368-370, 331 U. S. 375-378.

2. The present case is one of the type in which this Court is required to make an independent examination of the facts to determine whether a State has deprived a person of a fundamental right secured by the Constitution. Pp. 331 U. S. 373-374.

3. There is no special perquisite of the judiciary which enables it, as distinguished from other institutions of democratic government, to suppress, edit, or censor reports of occurrences in judicial proceedings. P. 331 U. S. 374.

4. One reporting the news of a judicial trial may not be held for contempt because he missed the essential point in the trial or failed to summarize the issues to accord with the views of the trial judge. P. 331 U. S. 375.

5. The vehemence of the language used in a publication concerning a pending case is not alone the measure of the power to punish for contempt; the threat to the administration of justice must be imminent. P. 331 U. S. 376.

6. The law of contempt is not designed for the protection of judges who may be sensitive to the winds of public opinion. P. 331 U. S. 376.

7. Although the nature of a case may be relevant in determining whether the clear and present danger test is satisfied, the rule of the Bridges and Pennekamp cases is fashioned to serve the needs of all litigation, not merely particular types of pending cases. P. 331 U. S. 378.

149 Tex.Cr. ___, 193 S.W.2d 178, reversed.

Page 331 U. S. 368

Petitioners' application to a state court for a writ of habeas corpus to obtain their release from imprisonment for contempt was denied. 193 S.W.2d 178. This Court granted certiorari. 329 U.S. 696. Reversed, p. 331 U. S. 378.

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