State v. Howell

Decision Date02 June 1908
Citation80 Conn. 668,69 A. 1057
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE v. HOWELL.

Appeal from Superior Court, Fairfield County; George W. Wheeler, Judge.

Richard Howell was adjudged guilty of contempt, and he appeals. Affirmed.

Robert E. De Forest, for appellant. William B. Boardman, Special State's Atty., for the State.

THAYER, J. Counsel for the defendant in his brief summarizes the various questions stated in the reasons of appeal as (1) questions relating to the admissibility of evidence; (2) the question of the liability of the defendant to criminal punishment for contempt in the absence of any criminal intent; (3) the question of the liability of any one for criminal contempt when it does not appear that the alleged contemptuous publication, in fact, interfered in any way with the course of justice or was known to the court, jury, witnesses, or any one concerned in the case or its trial until called to the court's attention after the trial; (4) the question whether the publications in themselves could under the circumstances of the case as found be legally regarded as in contempt of court so as to subject any one to punishment upon that ground. We shall adopt this summary of the questions presented. The defendant was charged in the application with having published in the Bridgeport Herald and the Waterbury Herald two articles relating to a cause then pending in the superior court at Danbury, where said papers circulated which tended to unduly interfere with the administration of justice, to obstruct the court in the discharge of its duties, and to prejudice the public and the jury as to the merits of said cause. After demurrers to the application had been overruled, he offered himself as a witness for the purpose of purging himself of the contempt. He testified that, although he was the editor and manager of the newspapers mentioned, he did not read the articles before publication, and had no actual knowledge of their contents, or that they contained matter disrespectful to the court or tending to interfere with the course of justice in the trial of the case to which they related, and that in their publication he had no intent to be disrespectful to the court, or to interfere with the course of justice. He admitted the publication of the articles in the newspapers. One of them was published two days before the trial of the case referred to began in the superior court, but after it had been assigned for trial. The other was published after the trial began and before it was completed. Upon cross-examination the defendant was asked to indentify several other articles relating to the same case and similar in their nature to those complained of, published in the same newspapers during his management and editorship of the same, but prior to the assignment of the case for trial, and the articles were offered and received in evidence as tending to contradict his statement that he had no knowledge of the publication of the articles complained of. We think the evidence was admissible for the purpose for which it was received. But, as the court has found that the defendant had no actual knowledge of the contents of the articles complained of, and no actual intent by the publication of the articles to obstruct or interfere with the due course of justice in the trial or disposition of the case, it is apparent that the admission of the evidence could have done him no harm, and therefore, if improperly received, its admission would afford the defendant no ground for a new trial.

The defendant insists that, as this proceeding is of a criminal nature, an actual criminal intent is essential to warrant his punishment, and that, as the court has found that there was no such actual intent, his punishment was unwarranted. But an actual criminal intent was not essential to constitute the publication of the articles a contempt of court. Such an intent is not an essential of many statutory crimes. State v. Nussenholtz, 76 Conn. 92, 95, 55 Atl. 589. But a...

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36 cases
  • United States v. Toledo Newspaper Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • January 23, 1915
    ... ... the English language and considering how it may be reasonably ... understood by ordinary readers, the state of public feeling ... on the subject-matter of the publication, and any other ... relevant matter which may reasonably aid in understanding the ... analogous to a contempt in the presence of the court.' ... In ... State v. Howell, 80 Conn. 668, 69 A. 1057, 125 ... Am.St.Rep. 141, 13 Ann.Cas. 501, the court, in holding that ... proof is not necessary that the offensive ... ...
  • McDougall v. Sheridan
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 2, 1913
    ...( Ex parte Terry, 128 U.S. 289, 9 S.Ct. 77, 32 L.Ed. 405; In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 15 S.Ct. 900, 39 L.Ed. 1092) It was held in State v. Howell, supra, that the power punish contempts is inherent in courts of record to enable them to preserve their own dignity and duly administer justice. (......
  • Van Dyke v. Superior Court of Gila County
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • December 30, 1922
    ... ... the truth of the substantial averments set forth in the ... petition. From the allegations of the petition we state so ... much of the facts as are necessary to present the questions ... involved ... On ... April 27, 1922, George M. Elledge, on behalf ... the punishment, but can never justify an unambiguous and ... unlawful utterance. See State v. Howell, 80 ... Conn. 668, 125 Am. St. Rep. 141, 13 Ann. Cas. 501, 69 A ... 1057; In re Fite, 11 Ga.App. 665, 76 S.E. 397; ... Territory v. Nugent, ... ...
  • State v. Ayala
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1992
    ...214 Conn. 344, 350, 572 A.2d 328, cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 111 S.Ct. 247, 112 L.Ed.2d 205 (1990); see also State v. Howell, 80 Conn. 668, 671, 69 A. 1057 (1908). One court has noted that "a specific statute granting the trial court authority to revoke bail [upon the violation of a reaso......
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