Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook
Reproduced with permission from
Allen V. Adair and the Franklin County Public Defender Office
For cases relating to the collection of
support, see Nonsupport;
Indigency/Child support and payment of debts
Availability as a sanction for particular conduct
Relationship to other sanctions or proceedings
Appropriateness of procedure or finding
R.C. 2705.01 -- Summary punishment for
contempt (direct contempt).
R.C. 2705.02 -- Acts in contempt of court
R.C. 2705.03 -- Hearing.
R.C. 2705.031 -- Contempt action for failure
to pay support or comply with visitation order.
R.C. 2705.04 -- Right of accused to bail.
R.C. 2705.05 -- Trial.
R.C. 2705.06 -- Imprisonment until order
R.C. 2705.08 -- Release of prisoner committed
R.C. 2705.10 --
Note: Contempts are classified as either civil
or criminal and direct or indirect. The categories do not completely overlap.
Consequently, the powers of the court and the rights of the person of the person
cited in contempt turn on first determining what sort of contempt is involved -
direct/criminal, indirect/criminal, etc.
Turner v. Rogers (2011), 131 S.Ct.
2507 – (1) For the most part there is no right to appointed counsel in child
support contempt proceedings. But the absence of alternative procedures, such as
assessment of the ability to pay, meant denial of counsel in this case was a
denial of due process. Appointed counsel might also be required when support
payments owed will go to the state to reimburse welfare payments. (2) A case
remains alive when the challenged action is of such brief duration that it may
not be fully litigated before its expiration. Sentence for child support
contempt had been served by the time the case was addressed by the Supreme
Hansen v. Hansen (1999), 132 Ohio App.
3d 795 -- Absent a rule, statute, or settled practice permitting service upon
counsel of notice of indirect civil contempt proceedings, due process requires
an effort to directly serve the party.
In re Lane, Washington App. No. 03CA35,
2004-Ohio-412, ¶ 9 -- "...(E)ven if abundant and uncontroverted evidence
establishes that a person disobeyed the court's order, a trial court is not
required to enter a contempt finding. Rather, the matter is entrusted to the
trial court's own discretion."
State v. Timson (1974), 38 Ohio St. 2d
122, 128 -- "While contempt may be an offense against the law and subject to
appropriate punishment certain it is that since the foundation of our
government, proceedings to punish such offenses have been regarded as sui
generis and not criminal prosecutions within the meaning of the Sixth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, or common understanding. Sui
generis, translated, means: of its own kind; peculiar to itself." Also see
Cincinnati v. Cincinnati District Council 51
(1973), 35 Ohio St. 2d 197, 201-202.
Brown v. Executive 200, Inc. (1980), 64
Ohio St. 2d 250 -- Syllabus: "The standard of proof required in a criminal
contempt proceeding is proof beyond a reasonable doubt." At pp. 253-254: "...(C)ourts
distinguish criminal and civil contempt not on the basis of punishment, but
rather by the character and purpose of the punishment...Punishment is remedial
or coercive and for the benefit of the complainant in civil contempt. Prison
sentences are conditional. The contemnor is said to carry the keys of his prison
in his own pocket...since he will be freed if he agrees to do as ordered.
Criminal contempt, on the other hand, is usually characterized by an
unconditional prison sentence. Such imprisonment operates nor as a remedy
coercive in its nature but as punishment for the completed act of disobedience,
and to vindicate the authority of the court." Also see Hicks, on Behalf of
Feiock, v. Feiock (1988), 485 U.S. 721; State v. Kilbane (1980), 61
Ohio St. 2d 201.
ConTex, Inc., v. Consolidated Technologies,
Inc. (1988), 40 Ohio App. 3d 94 -- A finding of civil contempt may be made
on clear and convincing evidence.
Midland Steel Products Co. v. U.A.W. Local 486
(1991), 61 Ohio St. 3d 121 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "In cases of
criminal, indirect contempt, it must be shown that the alleged contemnor
intended to defy the court."
Cleveland v. Ramsey (1988), 56 Ohio App.
3d 108 -- Failure to obey a subpoena is indirect contempt. Where the intent is
to punish the witness for her failure to appear, it is a criminal contempt.
Intent is an essential element of indirect criminal contempt (to be proven
beyond a reasonable doubt). Untimely appearance, after an unreturned call to the
prosecutor's office to see if the witness was still needed, does not establish
an intentional failure to appear.
Pugh v. Pugh (1984), 15 Ohio St. 3d 136
-- An intent to violate an order of the court need not be proven in civil
contempt proceedings. Also see Pedone v. Pedone (1983), 11 Ohio App. 3d
164; Johnson v. Johnson (1991), 71 Ohio App. 3d 713.
In re Carroll (1985), 28 Ohio App. 3d 6
-- Disobedience of a rule of court, not in the immediate presence of the court,
and which could not be purged by subsequent compliance, was an indirect criminal
contempt, requiring proof of intent.
Courtney v. Courtney (1984), 16 Ohio App.
3d 329 -- (1) Due process requires that one charged with contempt be advised of
the charges against him, have a reasonable opportunity to answer those charges
by way of defense or explanation, have the right to be represented by counsel
and have the chance to both testify and call witnesses. See In re Oliver
(1948), 333 U.S. 257, 275; In re Green
(1962), 369 U.S. 689, 691-692; Culberson v. Culberson (1978), 60 Ohio
App. 2d 304, 306.
Adams v. Epperly (1985), 27 Ohio App. 3d
51 -- Person cited for indirect criminal contempt for violation of domestic
relations court order may not be tried and sentenced in absentia.
Olmstead Twp. v. Riolo (1988), 49 Ohio
App. 3d 114 -- Impossibility of compliance is a defense to contempt. Also see
Courtney v. Courtney (1984), 16 Ohio App. 3d 329, 334.
Tucker v. Tucker (1983), 10 Ohio App. 3d
251 -- Sanction for civil contempt must include an opportunity for contemnor to
purge himself of contempt.
Burchett v. Miller (1997), 123 Ohio App.
3d 550 -- Civil contempt must allow the contemnor the opportunity to purge
himself or herself of contempt, and a court abuses its discretion imposing
conditions that are unreasonable or make compliance impossible. Seek work order
in support proceedings was impossible where contemnor was under house arrest on
pending criminal charges.
State v. Kilbane (1980), 61 Ohio St. 2d
201 -- As to sentence for direct contempt given witness who refused to testify,
the court was required to impose a determinate sentence, but could add
conditions allowing for an earlier termination of the sentence.
Oakwood v. Wuliger (1982), 69 Ohio St. 2d
452 -- By statute, contempt power of a Mayor's Court is limited to acts
committed in the presence of the court and does not reach indirect contempts
such as failure to appear for a hearing.
State v. Johnson (1987), 34 Ohio App. 3d
373 -- Authority of referee to have someone arrested for contempt depends on
terms of order of reference. It this includes the power to regulate all
proceedings as if they were before a judge, referee may do so.
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Availability as a sanction for particular conduct
State v. Daugherty, 165 Ohio App. 3d
2006-Ohio-240 -- Before the expiration of one year of probation, defendant
was jailed for contempt for failure to perform any of the hours of community
service ordered. While the proceedings may have satisfied the requirements for
probation revocation, failure to perform community service would be indirect
contempt. The court did not properly charge him with indirect contempt and the
proceedings resembled those punishing direct contempt.
State v. Nelson, Lorain App. No.
2003-Ohio-3922 -- Charges were dropped but defendant was ordered to
pay costs, and wrote "this is bullshit" on the check. Direct criminal contempt
finding reversed. Disrespectful language did not immediately imperil the wheels
State v. Perkins, 154 Ohio App. 3d 631,
2003-Ohio-5092 -- Off camera following a video arraignment defendant was heard
to say "that's bullshit" in response to the bond that had been set. This was
properly punished as direct criminal contempt.
State v. Flinn (1982), 7 Ohio App. 3d 294
-- Defendant properly held in contempt for refusal, in open court, to furnish
handwriting exemplar. Also see Hawk v. Superior Court (1974), 116 Cal.
Rptr. 713, 718, cert. denied, 421 U.S. 1012.
Cramer v. Petrie (1994), 70 Ohio St. 3d
131 -- Syllabus: "An obligation to pay child support is not a "debt" within the
meaning of that term in Section 15, Article I of the Ohio Constitution. Because
this obligation does not fall within the scope of Section 15, Article I, an
order to pay child support may be enforced by means of imprisonment through
contempt proceedings even after the child who is the subject of the order is
In re Buffington (1993), 89 Ohio App. 3d
814 -- Contempt proceedings may not be used to enforce payment of court costs.
State v. Burke (1993), 91 Ohio App. 3d
514 -- Court could use contempt proceeding to collect unpaid balance on
Cleveland v. Anderson (1992), 82 Ohio
App. 3d 63 -- Abortion protestors refused to pay fine upon conviction for
disorderly conduct and asked to be sent to the workhouse. Instead, judge
proposed to place them on probation and order them to perform eighty hours of
community service. Upon refusal either to pay the fine or do the community
service, the judge found the defendants in contempt. Conduct held not to be
subject to punishment as contempt as was not motivated by improper or
illegitimate purpose. The defendants had a statutory right to refuse to perform
community service and by statute were required to work off the fine at thirty
dollars per day if they refused to pay and were not indigent.
Burt v. Dodge (1992), 65 Ohio St. 3d 34
-- Judge may use contempt to punish violation of a gag order, even though acts
in question may have taken place outside of Ohio.
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Relationship to other sanctions or proceedings
State v. Palmer, Montgomery App. No.
2004-Ohio-779 -- Whether or not a sentence for contempt creates a
jeopardy bar to criminal prosecution turns on whether it was civil or criminal
in nature. Defendant served one day of ten attached to a prior purge order, and
was placed under a new purge order. Since he "held the keys to the jailhouse"
under the previous order, and was punished for inaction, that penalty was civil
in nature. Thus nonsupport prosecution may go forward.
State v. Smith, Mahoning App. No. 01 CA
2002-Ohio-6710 -- Municipal court treated failure to comply with terms of
probation as contempt rather than a violation of probation. The proper action
would have been a motion to terminate probation. Even if contempt proceedings
were appropriate, due process notice and procedural requirements for indirect
contempt of court are comparable to those for probation revocation.
United States v. Dixon (1993), 113 S. Ct.
2849 -- Double jeopardy bars prosecution for criminal acts already punished as
criminal contempt if, applying the same elements test of Blockburger v.
United States (1932), 284 U.S. 299, proof of the contempt incorporated the
elements of the alleged crime. Defendants were found in contempt for violation
of term of release that they not commit a criminal offense in one case or commit
or threaten an interfamily offense in the other.
State v. Bowling (1987), 36 Ohio App. 3d
74 -- Defendant punched an assistant prosecutor and bit a bailiff, for which he
was found in contempt and sentenced to two years in jail. The Double Jeopardy
Clause does not bar subsequent prosecution for assault and felonious assault
based on same conduct. Also see State v. Kimbler (1986), 31 Ohio App. 3d
Johnson v. Perini (1986), 33 Ohio App. 3d
127 -- State court was without authority to hear contempt proceedings based on
an order of the federal district court.
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State v. Jones,
Portage App. No. 2008-P-0018,
2008-Ohio-6994 – Attorney appointed to a misdemeanor case the day before
trial was unsuccessfully in obtaining a continuance, refused to participate in
the trial for fear he would provide ineffective assistance, and was found in
contempt. (1) Appellate court feels unable to address recusal claim as that
matter was solely within the jurisdiction of the Common Pleas Court. See
dissent. (2) Trial court erred in finding the attorney in contempt for refusing
to participate in the trial. In re Sherlock (1987),
37 Ohio App. 3d 204, followed. (3) The proper remedy for the situation was not,
as suggested, to proceed to trial, then raise ineffective assistance on appeal.
It would be unfair to address an issue, which could have been avoided, on the
basis that the outcome of the trial would likely have been different.
In re Contempt of Warner, Cuyahoga App.
2004-Ohio-2389 -- Trial counsel summarily found in contempt based on
characterizing the offenses as being the most serious in the state short of the
death penalty, and the state's hope that at least one of 22 counts would stick. Neither was a direct reference to the penalty. Record indicates no knowing
or wilful defiance of the court's instructions.
State v. Belcastro (2000), 139 Ohio App.
3d 498 -- Attorney was found in direct contempt because he did not return to the
courthouse in a timely manner after the jury returned a verdict. Reversed.
Summary punishment for direct contempt lies when the facts are within the direct
knowledge of the court. Since the attorney was out to lunch, the contempt
necessarily did not occur in the presence of the court. Attorney is entitled to
the procedural protections set forth in
R.C. 2705.03, but opinion implies he may
readily be found in contempt.
State ex rel. Bradley v. Stralaka (1999),
134 Ohio App. 3d 256 -- At arraignment defendant said Bradley was his attorney.
When the attorney received notice of trial date he wrote to judge stating this
was not the case. Judge appointed the lawyer. Lawyer again wrote to say under no
circumstances would he represent defendant. Judge initiated contempt
proceedings. Lawyer sought writ of prohibition, which was granted. (1) Because
lawyer never made an appearance on defendant's behalf, court lacked jurisdiction
over lawyer for purposes of contempt proceedings. Prior representation in a
different court on an unrelated matter, from which counsel had been allowed to
withdraw did not make him counsel. (2) State ex rel. Mancino v. Campbell
(1993), 66 Ohio St. 3d 217 distinguished on the basis that the lawyer there had
made an appearance on defendant's behalf.
State v. Mulligan, Montgomery App. No.
2003-Ohio-782 -- Double booking trials in state and federal court
without adequate advance notice to the common pleas court judge provided an
adequate basis for finding an attorney in contempt. Mistaken belief that the
federal case would settle does not excuse failure to notify court in a more
timely manner. However, the judge's manner of proceeding as both prosecutor and
judge at the contempt hearing denied the attorney due process, namely the right
to an impartial and unbiased judge. While it is not always necessary that
another judge decide the merits, private complaints before the hearing, and
statements as it proceeded, indicated that the judge had become so embroiled
that his perspective was affected. This included reflexively denying a motion
for a stay of the sanction, which included jail time, and telling the lawyer he
hoped he would look good in an orange jumpsuit.
State v. Wilson (1972), 30 Ohio St. 2d
312, 314-315 -- "The integrity of the judicial process demands total deference
to the court, particularly on the part of its officers...If a judge behaves
contumeliously, reprehensible as it may be, such conduct should be made a part
of the record, but cannot be corrected by counsel in the courtroom. There are
other remedies for transgressions of judicial decorum..." Compare Sandstrom
v. Butterworth (11th Cir. 1984), 738 F. 2d 1200. On the issue whether an
attorney may be found in contempt in proceedings where the court is proceeding
without jurisdiction, see Bedford v. Lacey (1985), 30 Ohio App. 3d 1.
State v. Weiner (1974), 37 Ohio St. 2d 13
-- (1) Where the contempt has not taken the form of personal insult or
vilification of the judge, the judge citing an attorney in contempt may preside
at the hearing on the citation. [Also see Ungar v. Sarafite (1964), 376
U.S. 575.] (2) Since contempt is a petty offense within the meaning of the
constitution, there is no right to jury trial. (3) Attorney properly found in
contempt for failure to directly inform the court of his desire to withdraw from
a case, where he had been retained and trial was imminent.
Springfield v. Myers (1988), 43 Ohio App.
3d 21 -- Due process violated where attorney has been summoned to the courtroom,
after referring to the judge as a nitwit on a radio call-in show, in the hope he
would commit a contumacious act.
State, ex rel Seventh Urban Inc., v. McFaul
(1983), 5 Ohio St. 3d 120 -- Attorney properly found in direct contempt where he
punched an opposing party while waiting for a hearing to begin in the courtroom
of the court of appeals. "Syllabus: Striking someone who is in a courtroom on
court business, the act occurring in the presence of the court's bailiff,
marshall, constable or court reporter, is a direct contempt in the constructive
presence of the court and may be punished as such."
Cleveland v. Heben (1991), 74 Ohio App. 3d
568 -- Finding of direct criminal contempt affirmed where after protracted
claims of illness which were not accepted by the court, attorney left the
courtroom for the bathroom and was ordered brought back by bailiffs. Court
concludes attorney's conduct were done in the presence of the court so as to
obstruct the administration of justice.
Garfield Heights v. Wolpert (1997), 122
Ohio App. 3d 287 -- Attorney made repeated calls seeking modification of a
misdemeanor sentence. (1) No prejudice when court allowed attorney's counsel to
withdraw without a hearing. (2) At p. 293: "...(W)e know of no rule of practice
within our adversary system which authorizes any attorney to make repeated ex
parte telephone calls to the tribunal before which he or she is practicing
after being commanded not to do so by the tribunal."
State ex rel Mancino v. Campbell (1993),
66 Ohio St. 3d 217 -- Attorney's appearance on behalf of a client at the
preliminary hearing stage in a municipal court meant that upon bindover he
remained counsel in common pleas court, subject to the contempt powers of that
court upon his refusal to appear for a hearing.
In re Purola (1991), 73 Ohio App. 3d 306
-- Failure to appear as ordered for a pretrial was indirect criminal contempt.
Essentially neither the trial nor appellate court is sympathetic to distant and
busy counsel's protestations that appearance at pretrial conference was an
In re Davis (1991), 77 Ohio App. 3d 257
-- Attorney was summarily found in contempt after he failed to appear in court
on the date a trial was scheduled. Reversed: the court was obligated to conduct
an evidentiary hearing before punishing contempt.
Catholic Social Services v. Howard
(1995), 106 Ohio App. 3d 615 -- Attorney was summarily found in contempt, fined
and sentenced to thirty days in jail after being seen in hallway near courtroom
of judge who had previously ordered he not appear in or near the courtroom. It
is beyond the court's jurisdiction to in effect bar a particular attorney from
appearing before it.
Shaker Heights v. Heffernan (1989), 48
Ohio App. 3d 307 -- Attorney found in contempt after it was discovered he had
appeared in court with a person he knew not to be the person named in a traffic
citation. Because fraud was involved, contempt could be prosecuted within one
year of discovery. Also see United States v. Thoreen (9th Cir. 1981), 653
F. 2d 1332.
State v. McDermott (1995), 72 Ohio St. 3d
570 -- Attorney could not be held in contempt for refusal to reveal matters he
believed were protected by the attorney-client privilege, absent express waiver
of the privilege by the client, or the client voluntarily testifying on the same
In re Jones (1998), 132 Ohio App. 3d 173
-- Defense counsel obtained a copy of a 911 tape, but prosecutor failed to do so
before the tapes were routinely destroyed. Defense counsel refused to turn tape
over upon request in discovery, and was found in contempt. Since she did not
intend to use tape, she was not required to turn it over. Contempt finding
reversed. Question remains whether tape could have been obtained through
In re Contempt of Rossman (1992), 82 Ohio
App. 3d 730 -- Reasonable doubt found to exist in direct contempt case where
counsel's remarks were construed as an effort to preserve the record.
In re Sherlock (1987), 37 Ohio App. 3d
204, 525 N.E. 2d 512 -- Defense counsel improperly held in contempt for refusing
to participate in trial after motion for continuance had been overruled. To do
so would have deprived client of effective assistance of counsel and would have
been contrary to the Code of Professional Responsibility.
State v. Christon (1990), 68 Ohio App. 3d
471 -- Defense counsel properly held in contempt for refusing to participate in
trial after continuance request had correctly been refused and counsel were not
adequately prepared due to their own inaction.
Pounders v. Watson (1997), 521 U.S. 982
-- Court finds no due process violation in summarily finding attorney in
contempt for asking a question on a subject held off limits when referred to by
other attorneys involved in the case.
In re Gonzalez (1990), 70 Ohio App. 3d
752 -- Attorney was found in contempt for several acts during trial, including
improper questioning, for which he was admonished, and on one occasion told he
was in contempt. Despite rather summary disposition of the contempt,
characterized as direct criminal contempt, court concludes it to have been
proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that summary punishment was in order. Also
see Scherer v. Scherer (1991), 72 Ohio Ops. 211 -- Old enemies
represented opposing parties in a hearing before a domestic referee which had to
be terminated when matters got out of hand.
In re Contempt of Morris (1996), 110 Ohio
App. 3d 475 -- (1) Objections by defense counsel to assertions beyond the proper
scope of a victim impact statement were an effort to preserve the record and
were not punishable as contempt. (2) Appeal was not moot as contemnor was not
given option of delaying payment of fine.
In re McGinty (1986), 30 Ohio App. 3d 219
-- Assistant prosecutor properly found in direct criminal contempt where judge
overheard him barge in on defense counsel's private interview of a witness in
conference room adjacent to the courtroom, interfering with that interview, and
attempting to both intimidate the witness and prejudice him against the defense.
State v. Khong (1985), 29 Ohio App. 3d 19
-- (1) A prosecutor may be found in contempt for failure to comply with a
discovery order. (2) While a defendant in criminal contempt proceedings has a
constitutional right to a speedy trial, the speedy trial statutes do not apply.
State v. Sandlin (1983), 11 Ohio App. 3d
84 -- Prosecutor's refusal to provide photo of victim, resulting in jail
sentence with opportunity to purge by furnishing photo, was a direct, civil
contempt. Opinion suggests court was within its powers in doing so, though fact
no such photo was in the possession of the prosecutor made the contempt finding
State v. Schiewe (1996), 110 Ohio App. 3d
170 -- Elected county prosecutor was held in direct, criminal contempt by trial
judge who believed he was presenting repetitive, cumulative testimony. Reversed.
Upon review, appellate court may not assume in the absence of a record that the
action of the lower court was correct. Here there was no contempt as the
prosecutor's actions were not disrespectful, and he was placed in the untenable
position of not offering what he thought was necessary evidence if he was to
comply with the court's wishes. Opinion cites numerous cases where actions of
defense counsel were similarly judged.
In re Contempt of Lusnia (1997), 121 Ohio
App. 3d 184 -- Prosecutors were found in contempt by juvenile court judge after
they borrowed a tape of a prior hearing in a closed case, had it transcribed,
then used the transcript to support a motion to have the Supreme Court
disqualify the judge from presiding in a pending bindover case. Reversed.
State v. Widner (1981), 68 Ohio St. 2d
188 -- Syllabus: "A trial judge properly exercises his discretion in ordering a
mistrial sua sponte, when: (1) the defendant and all his lawyers have
been found in contempt of court and removed from the courtroom; (2) the
defendant himself requests a trial before another judge; and (3) a codefendant's
trial would be immeasurably delayed by the granting of a continuance. The
defense of former jeopardy will not then bar a second trial before a different
judge. (United States v. Dinitz, 424 U.S. 600, followed and applied.)
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Appropriateness of procedure or finding
Disciplinary Counsel v. Karto, 94 Ohio St.
2002-Ohio-61 -- Six month suspension of common pleas judge rest in part
on two improper uses of contempt power: (1) During hearing judge took off his
robe, testified, made a closing argument, resumed the bench and found a county
employee in contempt, but never imposed a sentence, which would have permitted
an appeal. (2) Judge claimed that outside the courthouse the girlfriend of
probation violator pointed her finger at him and made a popping sound. She was
found in contempt and given a suspended sentence, without the filing of formal
charges or being advised of her right to counsel. Also see Disciplinary
Counsel v. Hoague 88 Ohio St. 3d 321,
In re Thomas, Hamilton App. No. C-030429,
2004-Ohio-373 -- Potential juror who was excused claiming her child had a
medical appointment later was found guilty of direct criminal contempt on the
basis she lied. Reversed. Contempt was indirect as it required proof of facts,
not known to the judge, but relayed by a third party. Since the trial was not
delayed, summary finding of contempt, without procedural safeguards, was
State v. Drake (1991), 73 Ohio App. 3d
640 -- After judge said to the defendant "Your case is over son. You are an
aggravated robber, a damn criminal" the defendant responded "fuck you." Held not
punishable as direct contempt. (From the bench: "Fuck you too...Add six more
State v. Conliff (1978), 61 Ohio App. 2d
185 -- It was error for the court to summarily punish the defendant for
attempting to remind the judge of the need to pass sentence on a disorderly
conduct charge by asking if he wanted his ounce of flesh. Displays of ill
mannered conduct are not summarily punishable as direct contempt unless they
pose an imminent threat to the administration of justice. (Defendant had been
acquitted of assault after throwing a banana cream pie at former governor
In re Parker (1995), 105 Ohio App. 3d 31
-- Judge filed an order directing contemnor not to come within 100 yards of his
courtroom or home. Following a middle of the night incident at the judge's home,
contemnor was summarily found in contempt, fined and ordered to serve a year in
jail. Held that since the contempt was indirect, a hearing was required.
State v. Moody (1996), 116 Ohio App. 3d
176 -- Defendant was absent from the courthouse when the jury had a question
because he had taken his brother to a medical appointment. Though he was found
not guilty, he was summarily given six, then three, months for direct contempt.
Held that failure to appear for a hearing occurs in the constructive, rather
than immediate, presence of the court, thus being an indirect contempt,
requiring written charges and the ability to defend.
State v. Kitchen (1998), 128 Ohio App. 3d
335 -- Defendant fired attorney within hearing of venire and in opening
statement cast himself as the victim of an unfair process, though admonished not
to. Following the declaration of a mistrial he was given thirty days for
contempt. Held to be within the judge's discretion as a matter of direct
State v. Castle (1994), 92 Ohio App. 3d
732 -- Criminal contempt convictions upheld where witnesses failed to appear on
subpoena because they were on vacation. Prosecutor had been contacted but
continuance had not been arranged. Case did not go to trial. Also see In re
Meirhoff (1999), 99 Ohio Misc. 2d 17 (officer called courthouse before
business hours to say he had other plans).
Garfield Heights v. Stefaniuk (1998), 127
Ohio App. 3d 293 -- Unrepresented college student was found in contempt after
failing to perform community service he found inconvenient. Because this
amounted to criminal contempt, court erred by failing to advise him of his right
to counsel, including appointed counsel, and by not obtaining a valid waiver.
Court notes split of authority as to right to appointed counsel in civil
Elias v. Stein (1997), 120 Ohio App. 3d
432 -- Party was an hour late to a pretrial because of family problems. Judge
summarily found him in contempt, imposed a $250 fine and ordered him to pay an
hour of opponent's attorney fees. Reversed. Indirect criminal contempt required
proof beyond a reasonable doubt of an intent to violate the court's pretrial
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Broadview Heights v. Baron (2000), 139
Ohio App. 3d 729, 748 -- Attorney count not appeal a contempt finding against
him in the appeal from his client's conviction.
State v. Karasek, Montgomery App. Nos.
17408 and 17409,
2002-Ohio-2616 -- Woman arrested for civil contempt was
frustrated by delay in being processed for release and kneed jail officer in the
groin. Because civil contempt is not a crime or delinquent act under
2903.12(C)(2)(b), she was erroneously convicted of assault on a corrections
officer. Assault conviction stands.
Schock v. Sheppard (1982), 7 Ohio App.
3d 45 -- A party facing contempt for non-payment of child support, if faced with
imprisonment, has the right to appointed counsel if indigent. Lassiter v.
Dept. of Social Services
(1981), 452 U.S. 18, applied. Compare Courtney v. Courtney (1984), 16
Ohio App. 3d 329; In re Calhoun (1976), 47 Ohio St. 2d 15.
Kaiser v. Hall (1970), 24 Ohio St. 2d 23
-- Grand jury witness was found in contempt and jailed for refusal to answer
questions. Habeas action became moot upon his release. Also see Springfield
v. Myers (1988), 43 Ohio App. 3d 21 -- moot when sentence had been
completed. Compare State v. Roe (1971), 26 Ohio St. 2d 243 -- Mootness
not an issue in appeal from contempt finding by police officers who refused to
disclose name of informant in testimony before grand jury - presumably full
penalty had not been exacted or mootness was not raised.
State ex rel. Frazer et al. (1996), 107
Ohio App. 3d 245 -- Believing a witness lied, a juvenile court judge found her
in contempt and ordered a jaywalking defendant to remain under house arrest
until disposition. Habeas corpus does not lie to challenge a contempt finding.
Appeal is the proper remedy. House arrest found not to have exceeded the court's
Denovchek v. Trumbull County Commissioners
(19988), 36 Ohio St. 3d 14 -- Syllabus: "There is no right of appeal from the
dismissal of a contempt motion when the party making the motion (to have another
cited in contempt) is not prejudiced by the dismissal."
In re Miami County Grand Jury Directive to
Creager (1992), 82 Ohio App. 3d 269 -- Person found in contempt for refusal
to supply handwriting exemplar is entitled to appointment of counsel for
purposes of appeal. Also see In re Grand Jury Directive to Creager
(1993), 89 Ohio App. 3d 672 -- Defendant was properly found in contempt for
refusal to provide handwriting exemplar. The privilege against
self-incrimination under the Ohio Constitution is identical to that found in the
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