FISHER V. PACE, 336 U. S. 155 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fisher v. Pace, 336 U.S. 155 (1949)

Fisher v. Pace

No. 45

Argued December 9, 1948

Decided February 7, 1949

336 U.S. 155


1. In a workmen's compensation proceeding in a Texas state court, counsel for the claimant, in his argument to the jury, persisted in referring to matters which, under Texas law and as the judge twice admonished him, were outside the issues for the jury, and he was summarily fined $25 for contempt. An altercation between counsel and the judge followed, during which the fine was increased to $50, then a 3-day jail sentence was added, and finally a sentence of $100 fine and 3 days in jail was imposed. The State Supreme Court upheld the sentence.

Held: upon the record in this case, counsel was not denied due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 336 U. S. 156-163.

2. The inherent power of courts to punish summarily for contempts committed in their presence is essential to preserve their authority and to prevent the administration of justice from falling into disrepute, and such summary procedure affords due process of law. Pp. 336 U. S. 159-160.

3. The mildly provocative language of the trial judge did not excuse counsel's show of contempt for judge and court which the record in this case manifests. P. 336 U. S. 163.

146 Tex. 328, 206 S.W.2d 1000, affirmed.

In a state court in which he was participating as counsel in the trial of a workmen's compensation case, petitioner was summarily convicted and sentenced for a contempt of court. In a habeas corpus proceeding, the State Supreme Court upheld the conviction. 146 Tex. 328, 206 chanrobles.com-red

Page 336 U. S. 156

S.W.2d 1000. This Court granted certiorari. 334 U.S. 827. Affirmed, p. 336 U. S. 163.