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IN RE MCCONNELL, 370 U. S. 230 (1962)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re McConnell, 370 U.S. 230 (1962)

In re McConnell

No. 498

Argued April 10, 1962

Decided June 18, 1962

370 U.S. 230


Under 18 U.S.C. § 401 and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42(a), petitioner was summarily tried and convicted by the trial judge of criminal contempt for conduct during a trial in which petitioner represented the plaintiff in a suit under the Clayton Act for treble damages for an alleged conspiracy to destroy the plaintiff's business by restraining and monopolizing trade. At the very outset of the trial, the judge had ruled erroneously that the plaintiff's counsel could not try to prove the conspiracy charge; but, in order to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 43(c) and thus preserve his client's rights on appeal, petitioner, in the presence of the jury, persisted in asking questions intended to lay the proper foundation for offers of proof of conspiracy. The judge ordered petitioner to stop doing so, but petitioner insisted that he had a right to do so, and said he would continue to do so "unless some bailiff stops us." However, a recess was then called and thereafter petitioner asked no more of the forbidden questions.

Held: there was nothing in this conduct sufficiently disruptive of the trial court's business to "obstruct the administration of justice," within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 401, and a judgment sustaining the conviction is reversed. Pp. 370 U. S. 230-236.

294 F.2d 310 reversed.

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