14 Cal.2d 464, 16174, Bridges v. Superior Court

Docket Nº:16174
Citation:14 Cal.2d 464, 94 P.2d 983
Opinion Judge:[9] Curtis
Party Name:Bridges v. Superior Court
Attorney:[7] Gallagher, Wirin & Johnson, Gladstein, Grossman & Margolis, Charles J. Katz and A. L. Wirin for Petitioner. [8] J. H. O'Connor, County Counsel, Douglas De Coster, Chief Deputy County Counsel, S. V. O. Pritchard, Deputy County Counsel, Allen W. Ashburn, Michael G. Luddy and Arnold Praeger for ...
Case Date:October 16, 1939
Court:Supreme Court of California
 
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Page 464

14 Cal.2d 464

94 P.2d 983

HARRY R. BRIDGES, Petitioner,

v.

THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent.

S. F. No. 16174.

Supreme Court of California

October 16, 1939

In Bank.

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COUNSEL

[94 P.2d 984] Gallagher, Wirin &amp Johnson, Gladstein, Grossman &amp Margolis, Charles J. Katz and A. L. Wirin for Petitioner. J. H. O'Connor, County Counsel, Douglas De Coster, Chief Deputy County Counsel, S. V. O. Pritchard, Deputy County Counsel, Allen W. Ashburn, Michael G. Luddy and Arnold Praeger for Respondent

OPINION

[94 P.2d 985] CURTIS, J.

This proceeding was instituted for the purpose of reviewing a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles whereby the petitioner, Harry R. Bridges, was found guilty of contempt of court. Upon the filing of the petition herein, an order was made that the proceedings before the trial court be certified to this court in order that the same might be reviewed and such action taken therein as is by law required. The basis of the contempt proceeding was the alleged publication of a portion of a

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telegram sent by petitioner to the secretary of labor which, it is claimed, contained statements calculated to, and which had an inherent tendency to, interfere with the proceedings of a certain action then pending before the Honorable Ruben S. Schmidt, a judge of the Superior Court of said County of Los Angeles. That action was entitled P. W. Walker et al. v. International Longshoremen's Association, District Local 38-82, Inc. et al. and carried the number, 420356.

The proceedings against petitioner involving said charge of contempt were commenced by the filing of four affidavits, each entitled, "In the Matter of H. R. Bridges, sometimes known as Harry R. Bridges. In Contempt", and were verified respectively by J. Louis Elkins, executive secretary of the Los Angeles Bar Association; L. E. Lampton, clerk of the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles; Charles E. Sharritt, and A. G. Stanham, deputy county clerks of said court. After proceedings duly had, the petitioner appeared in said court, filed an answer to the charge made against him in said affidavits and the matter was heard by the Honorable Edward T. Bishop, a judge of said superior court. At the close of said hearing, the petitioner herein was found guilty of contempt of court upon the second count set forth in the affidavit of J. Louis Elkins, and not guilty as charged in the third count of said affidavit. The trial court had theretofore sustained a demurrer of petitioner to the charge as set forth in the first count of said affidavit. In adjudging the petitioner herein guilty of contempt of court, the trial court made findings of fact which we set out in full as follows:

"That on or about the 18th day of September, 1937, an action was commenced in the above entitled court by the filing of a complaint and the issuance of a summons entitled, 'P. W. Walker et al., plaintiffs, v. International Longshoremen's Association--Local 38-82, Inc., a corporation et al., defendants', which said action is known as action number 420356 in said court.

"That said action was tried in the above entitled court before the Honorable Ruben S. Schmidt, as judge thereof, and on the 21st day of January, 1938, the said Ruben S. Schmidt, as judge of said court, made, signed and filed his findings of fact and conclusions of law in said action.

[94 P.2d 986] "That thereafter, but on the same day, a judgment and permanent injunction in said action were made and filed, in

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and by the terms of which a receiver was appointed over said International Longshoremen's Association, Local 38-82, Inc., and said receiver on said date qualified by filing a bond required by said judgment to be filed by him, and by making and filing his oath as such receiver.

"That on the next day, to-wit, the 22nd day of January, an order was made and entered by the court, staying the execution of said judgment and said injunction to the 29th day of January, 1938; that said judgment and permanent injunction were entered by the clerk of this court, on the 24th day of January, 1938, in the judgment book kept by him for that purpose, and that on said date all the defendants in said action, against whom judgment had been rendered and said permanent injunction issued, made and served a notice of intention to move for a new trial and a notice of motion to vacate the judgment and decision in said action.

"That from the time of the filing of said action, to and including the time of the events hereinafter referred to, the existence of said action and of the controversy involved therein received wide and general publicity in the Pacific Coast states of the United States of America. That almost daily during said period news items respecting the controversy involved in said action, and respecting conditions in the maritime industry on the Pacific Coast as a result of said controversy, appeared in the daily newspapers published and circulated in the City of Los Angeles, and that the existence of said controversy and of the fact that the said controversy was pending in the courts for determination was a matter of great public interest and general public discussion.

"That on the 24th day of January, 1938, the defendant Harry R. Bridges dispatched a telegraphic message to Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor in the Cabinet of the President of the United States, at Washington, D. C., which telegram contained words and figures as follows, to-wit: 'This decision is outrageous considering I. L. A. has 15 members (in San Pedro) and the International Longshoremen-Warehousemen Union has 3000. International Longshoremen-Warehousemen Union has petitioned the labor board for certification to represent San Pedro longshoremen with International Longshoremen Association denied representation because it represents only 15 men. Board hearing held; decision now pending; Attempted enforcement of Schmidt decision will tie-up port of Los Angeles and involve entire Pacific Coast.

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International Longshoremen-Warehousemen Union, representing over 11,000 of the 12,000 longshoremen on the Pacific Coast, does not intend to allow state courts to override the majority vote of members in choosing its officers and representatives and to override the National Labor Relations Board.' That the words 'this decision' and the words, 'Schmidt decision', as used in the telegram, referred to the judgment and permanent injunction in which was contained an order appointing a receiver, as hereinabove noted. That the initials 'I. L. A.' referred to in said telegram, referred to International Longshoremen's Association, Local 38-82, Inc., hereinabove referred to.

"That at or about the time of the sending of said telegram the defendant Harry R. Bridges caused a copy thereto to be given to one James D. O'Neil, for the purpose and with the intent that the contents of said telegram should, and would be, furnished to and published in newspapers on the Pacific Coast and elsewhere, and said James D. O'Neil did give said telegram to newspaper reporters, and on the 24th and 25th days of January, 1938, the portion of said telegram above set forth was published in newspapers of wide and general circulation in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, in the State of California, and the sending of said telegram and the contents thereof were thus made public and received wide and general publicity in the County of Los Angeles and elsewhere.

"That the statements contained in said telegram, and the publication of the fact of the sending of said telegram, and the publication of the contents thereof, all as aforesaid, were in and of themselves calculated, and had, an inherent tendency to interfere with the orderly and due administration of justice in said action No. 420356, and to interfere with, influence, sway, and control the proceedings in said action, and to embarrass and influence the actions and decisions of the judge before whom said action was pending."

As we view the proceeding before us, it involves three major questions which call for answers. There are also questions of minor importance which will be discussed [94 P.2d 987] briefly at the close of this opinion. These three questions are: first, one of procedure, second, the constitutionality of the last sentence of subdivision 13 of section 1209 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and third, whether the petitioner was responsible for the publication of the telegram sent to the

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secretary of labor, or that portion thereof which found its way into the public press, and if so, was the subject-matter thereof of such a character that the publication thereof would subject petitioner to punishment for contempt of court?

At the inception of the proceeding against petitioner, he objected to the procedure by means of which he was brought before the court and prosecuted on the charge of which he was subsequently found guilty. As we have seen, this proceeding was initiated by the filing of four affidavits each of which was entitled, "In the Matter of H. R. Bridges, sometimes known as Harry R. Bridges. In Contempt." Upon these affidavits being filed, the trial court issued its order and directed petitioner to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. The petitioner appeared, and both by motion to quash the order to show cause and by demurrer, raised the procedural question and contended that the proceeding against him was a criminal proceeding and should have been brought in the name of the People of the State of California, as plaintiff, and prosecuted by the district attorney of the county, or the attorney-general of the state, instead of being entitled as indicated above, and prosecuted as it was by three private attorneys purporting...

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