State ex rel. Attorney Gen. v. Owens, Case Number: 18081

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtRILEY, J.
Citation256 P. 704,1927 OK 153,125 Okla. 66
Docket NumberCase Number: 18081
Decision Date24 May 1927
PartiesSTATE ex rel. ATTORNEY GENERAL v. OWENS.

1927 OK 153
256 P. 704
125 Okla. 66

STATE ex rel. ATTORNEY GENERAL
v.
OWENS.

Case Number: 18081

Supreme Court of Oklahoma

Decided: May 24, 1927


Syllabus

¶0 1. Judges--Disqualification of Judge by Making Him a Witness--Necessary Showing as to Materiality of Testimony.

In any action where the ground of the necessity of the presiding judge's testimony is relied upon to disqualify the judge, the application must by proper averment set out the materiality and necessity of such judge's testimony.

2. Same.

In any cause or proceeding a party is not entitled to call the presiding judge as a witness, without having theretofore made proper averments as to the materiality and necessity of such testimony, and thus destroy the court by the subtle proposed use of judges as witnesses.

3. Evidence--Direct Contempt Proceeding--Judicial Notice of Court Records and Proceeding as Obviating Use of Presiding Judges as Witnesses.

In direct contempt proceedings the court takes judicial notice of the records of the court and the acts of the respondent committed in court and those reflected by pleadings filed by him; therefore, no proper purpose is to be had in calling presiding judges as witnesses.

4. Judges--Court; not Disqualified by Having Directed Filing of Information for Contempt.

The fact that the court instructed information of contempt to be filed against respondent does not entitle him to disqualify the court in proceedings to hear and determine the cause.

5. Contempt--Nature of Direct Contempt Proceeding--No Interest Disqualifying Judges.

An action to punish for a direct contempt is prosecuted in the name of the state, in the interest of society, for the purpose of upholding the authority of courts as an instrumentality of government. There, can be no pecuniary interest of individuals to be considered, nor interest of affinity or consanguinity. There can be no interest that disqualifies a court to proceed. The duty of the individuals comprising the court commands that they shall proceed in a summary manner.

6. Contempt--Basis of Inherent Power of Courts to Punish for Contempt.

It is the right of the people to cause their courts to be treated with respect, to enable lawful orders, judgments and mandates to be obeyed, and to protect them from intimidation and the approach of insults and pollution, that establishes the inherent power of courts to punish for contempt.

7. Same--Statutes as to Change of Venue Inapplicable.

Statutory provisions relative to change of venue have no application to proceedings to punish contempts unless such proceedings are expressly included eo nomine in the written law. Such provisions are not eo nomine included in section 2632, or section 2629, Compiled Oklahoma Statutes, 1921, or in any other statutory provision.

8. Contempt--Nature of Contempt Proceeding.

A contempt proceeding is sui generis. It is neither civil nor criminal, but may partake of either in its nature. It is triable only by the court against whose authority the contempt is charged.

9. Same--Sufficiency of Information.

Neither the Constitution, article 2, section 17, nor the statutes of this state make provision for compulsory affidavits to support an information as a basis for a contempt action. An information for a contempt filed by the Attorney General, positive and specific in its charges and verified on information and belief, is sufficient.

10. Same--Inherent Power of Supreme Court to Punish for Contempt.

This court, being created by the Constitution, has inherent power to punish for contempt, limited only by the Constitution.

11. Same--Significance and Intent of Language Used by Litigant in Instrument Filed in Court.

Where the language used by a litigant in an instrument filed and presented in court is such as to carry beyond question its own inherent and inevitable significance, the user must have intended the natural consequences of his use of such language.

12. Same--Direct Contempt--Contemptuous Language in Motion Filed Reflecting Upon Members of Court.

Language used by a litigant in his verified motion for leave to file a petition for rehearing, filed in this court, wherein it was charged that an opinion was not written by a member of this court, but by an attorney in the action, that said judgment was rendered without evidence to support it and without proper consideration of briefs or records in the case, and that a conspiracy existed between members of the court and outsiders to render a corrupt judgment, and that an opinion was promulgated by a number less than a majority of this court as the opinion and judgment of this court, constitutes direct contempt of court under the statute (section 1697, Compiled Oklahoma Statutes, 1921) and the common law.

13. Jury--No Right to Jury Trial in Direct Contempt.

One charged with direct contempt is not entitled to a jury trial.

14. Contempt--Punishment Assessed.

Disposition of action--judgment of conviction-- punishment directed at twelve months' imprisonment in the county jail and a fine of $ 5,000, and cost.

Original action by the State ex rel. the Attorney General against O. O. Owens for contempt. Judgment finding the respondent guilty as charged--assessing his punishment.

The Attorney General, by W. L. Murphy, Asst. Atty. Gen., for relator.

Chas. B. Cochran and D. H. Linebaugh, amici curiae.

H. B. Martin, A. Flint Moss, Hugh A. Ledbetter, and Christy Russell, for respondent.

RILEY, J.

¶1 On January 7, 1925, there was filed in this court an information on the part of the Attorney General of the state of Oklahoma charging the respondent, O. O. Owens, with contempt of this court on two separate counts.

¶2 The first count avers that the respondent caused to be published on October 24th and 31st, 1926, and on November 1st and 2nd. 1926, in the Tulsa World, a newspaper published in the city of Tulsa and having a general circulation in the state of Oklahoma, a certain printed article, an advertisement of and concerning the Supreme Court of the state of Oklahoma and the Justices thereof, which article so published reflected upon the honor, integrity, and purity of this court and was designed, intended, and calculated by the respondent to hold up to public opprobrium and to incite public contempt for this court and certain Justices constituting the same, and for the purpose of leading the people of this state to distrust the fairness and impartiality of the decisions of this court and for the purpose of influencing, intimidating, and coercing this court and the Justices of the same in their future action in connection with the case of V. V. Harris et al. v. R. D. Hudson, No. 17590, and V. V. et al. v. R. D. Hudson, No. 17590, 122 Okla. 171, 250 P. 532, and V. V. Harris et al. v. T. G. Chambers, No. 17409, 121 Okla. 75, 247 P. 695, and thus to impede and disrupt the due administration of justice with reference to said causes and others then pending in said court.

¶3 The second count charges the respondent with having filed in this court, on January 3, 1927, in cause No. 17409, V. V. Harris et al. v. T. G. Chambers, a "motion of defendants Riverside Oil & Refining Company, a corporation, O. O. Owens, and G. R. Lefever, for leave to file petition for rehearing in said cause and to stay the mandate and writ of mandamus in said cause," which instrument was signed and sworn to by the said O. O. Owens, respondent, and wherein it was alleged that the opinion in said cause was not written by Justice Charles W. Mason, but by counsel for plaintiff in the cause, and that said opinion was handed down without consideration of the evidence in this cause and without any consideration of either the pleadings or the briefs filed therein, either by Justice Charles W. Mason or any other Justices of this court. In said instrument respondent further alleged that in an opinion of this court filed July 7, 1925, in cause No. 13646, styled "Riverside Oil & Refining Co. et al v. Lynch et al.," 114 Okla. 198, 243 P. 967, Justice J. W. Clark prepared an opinion under the direction and control of Chief Justice George M. Nicholson, who was alleged to be in conspiracy with one J. B. Dudley, counsel in said cause, and that the opinion and Judgment therein was prepared without knowledge of the contents of the case-made therein and without consideration of the briefs in said cause and without a concurrence of a majority of this court, and that the same was filed and promulgated as the decision of this court and that a mandate was issued therein and that such acts constituted in law and in fact a fraud.

¶4 On March 29, 1927, the respondent filed a demurrer, objection to the jurisdiction of the court, and an application requesting certain members of the court to certify their disqualifications. On April 23, 1927, the application to disqualify certain of the Justices was denied as to seven members of the court so challenged, and Mr. Justice Hunt thereupon certified his disqualification to further sit in said cause.

¶5 Our opinion shall be directed, first, to the application requesting certain members of this court to certify their alleged disqualifications. By the application it is asserted:

(1) That said Justices and each of them are biased and prejudiced against the respondent.

(2) That said Justices and each of them are interested in this cause.

(3) That Justice J. W. Clark and Justice Fletcher Riley are disqualified by reason of a certain judgment entered in Cause No. 18080, State of Oklahoma ex rel. the Attorney General v. H. B. Martin, 125 Okla. 24, 256 P. 667, whereby said Justices were adjudged to be disqualified to sit and try cause No. 18080, a companion case to the instant cause and growing out of the same controversy.

(4) That it will be necessary in the trial of this cause to use, and it is the intention of the respondent to use the said Justices aforesaid as witnesses.

(5) That the rule to show cause herein shows on its face that this court, except Robert A. Hefner, is the informer and prosecutor
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8 practice notes
  • Vogel v. Corp., Case Number: 29592
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 13 Enero 1942
    ...proceeding is sui generis. It is neither civil nor criminal, but may partake of either in its nature." State ex rel. Short v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, 52 A.L.R. 1270; Eilenbecker v. District Court, 134 U. S. 31, 10 S. Ct. 424, 33 L. Ed. 801. ¶7 A respondent in a contempt proceeding ......
  • Dancy v. Owens, Case Number: 18502
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 19 Julio 1927
    ...ex rel. Attorney General v. Martin, 125 Okla. 24, 256 P. 667, and the syllabus in the case of State ex rel. Attorney General v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, are readopted as syllabus in the instant case. 2. Courts--Supreme Court as Head of State Judicial System. Under section 1, article......
  • Okla. City v. Baldwin, Case Number: 17581
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 3 Abril 1928
    ...court. Its history is found in more than one case. They are in the books as follows: 126 Okla. 86, 258 P. 744; 125 Okla. 1, 256 P. 340; 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704; 127 Okla. 85, 260 P. 454. ¶28 The matter printed by the said firm, Francis & Holden, was in two editions, one in the autumn of 19......
  • Okla. Tax Comm'n v. Clendinning, Case Number: 31647
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 16 Noviembre 1943
    ...258 P. 758, that contempt of court is a crime. The Supreme Court has adjudged that it is not. State ex rel. Attorney General v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, 52 A.L.R. 1270, and the federal courts have held that the Supreme Court is supreme. Idem, Ann. ¶20 However, the writ of habeas cor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Vogel v. Corp., Case Number: 29592
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 13 Enero 1942
    ...proceeding is sui generis. It is neither civil nor criminal, but may partake of either in its nature." State ex rel. Short v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, 52 A.L.R. 1270; Eilenbecker v. District Court, 134 U. S. 31, 10 S. Ct. 424, 33 L. Ed. 801. ¶7 A respondent in a contempt proceeding ......
  • Dancy v. Owens, Case Number: 18502
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 19 Julio 1927
    ...ex rel. Attorney General v. Martin, 125 Okla. 24, 256 P. 667, and the syllabus in the case of State ex rel. Attorney General v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, are readopted as syllabus in the instant case. 2. Courts--Supreme Court as Head of State Judicial System. Under section 1, article......
  • Okla. City v. Baldwin, Case Number: 17581
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 3 Abril 1928
    ...court. Its history is found in more than one case. They are in the books as follows: 126 Okla. 86, 258 P. 744; 125 Okla. 1, 256 P. 340; 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704; 127 Okla. 85, 260 P. 454. ¶28 The matter printed by the said firm, Francis & Holden, was in two editions, one in the autumn of 19......
  • Okla. Tax Comm'n v. Clendinning, Case Number: 31647
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 16 Noviembre 1943
    ...258 P. 758, that contempt of court is a crime. The Supreme Court has adjudged that it is not. State ex rel. Attorney General v. Owens, 125 Okla. 66, 256 P. 704, 52 A.L.R. 1270, and the federal courts have held that the Supreme Court is supreme. Idem, Ann. ¶20 However, the writ of habeas cor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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