UNITED STATES V. BARNETT, 376 U. S. 681 (1964)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Barnett, 376 U.S. 681 (1964)

United States v. Barnett

No. 107

Argued October 21-22, 1963

Decided April 6, 1964

376 U.S. 681


This proceeding arose from the efforts of a Negro to gain admission as a student to the University of Mississippi. The Court of Appeals, sua sponte, appointed the Attorney General or his assistants to prosecute this criminal contempt proceeding under Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure against the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi for disobeying injunctive orders issued by the Court of Appeals and the District Court. The alleged contemners demanded trial by jury and the Court of Appeals, being evenly divided, certified to this Court the question whether they were so entitled.

Held: The alleged contemners are not entitled to a jury trial.

1. On the facts certified, there is no statutory right to trial by jury. Pp. 376 U. S. 690-692.

(a) 18 U.S.C. §§ 402 and 3691, which provide for jury trial in certain instances of criminal contempt, do not apply, since this case involves a contempt committed in disobedience of an order of the Court of Appeals. Pp. 376 U. S. 690-692.

(b) It would be anomalous for a court of appeals to have the power to punish contempt of its own orders without a jury, but to be rendered impotent to do so when the offensive behavior happens to be in contempt of a district court order as well. P. 376 U. S. 692.

2. On the facts certified, there is no constitutional right to trial by jury. Pp. 376 U. S. 692-700.

Reported below: 330 F.2d 369.

Page 376 U. S. 682

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