United States v. Bittner

Decision Date23 January 1926
Docket Number2432.,No. 2431,2431
Citation11 F.2d 93
PartiesUNITED STATES ex rel. WEST VIRGINIA-PITTSBURGH COAL CO. v. BITTNER et al. (two cases).
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

J. M. Ritz and John A. Howard, both of Wheeling, W. Va. (Wm. C. Howard, of Wheeling, W. Va., on the brief), for plaintiff in error.

Henry Warrum, of Indianapolis, Ind. (T. C. Townsend, of Charleston, W. Va., John D. Gardner, of Steubenville, Ohio, and W. J. Walker, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, on the brief), for defendants in error.

Before WADDILL, ROSE, and PARKER, Circuit Judges.

WADDILL, Circuit Judge.

These two proceedings, involving questions of contempt of court, respectively set forth in the petitions in each cause, will be considered together, as they depend upon substantially the same facts, and were so heard in the District Court. The proceedings were instituted on the 21st day of April, 1925, the first named No. 2431, entitled "United States of America ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Company, a Corporation Organized under and by Virtue of the Laws of West Virginia, Having Its Principal Office at Wellsburg in the Northern District of said State, Plaintiff, v. John L. Lewis, Philip Murray, Van A. Bittner, Lee Hall, William Roy, G. W. Savage, Frank Ledvinka, John Cinque, W. T. Roberts, Joseph Angelo, Pearl Dooley, Harvey Lafollette, Tony Corrodi, Robert Corrodi, Angelo Nude, William Vernon, and Pete Coffaro, Defendants, Criminal Contempt Proceeding, No. 8017," and the second, No. 2432, entitled "United States of America ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Company, a Corporation Organized under and by Virtue of the Laws of West Virginia, Having Its Principal Office at Wellsburg, in the Northern District of said State, Plaintiff, v. John L. Lewis, Philip Murray, Van A. Bittner, Lee Hall, William Roy, G. W. Savage, Frand Ledvinka, John Cinque, W. T. Roberts, Joseph Angelo, W. T. Martin, Andy Swartz, David Stephens, Lou Vandine, and Homer Colley, Defendants, Criminal Contempt Proceeding, No. 8019."

The petitions each set out that the several defendants therein were, and had been, guilty of contempt of court in violating, with many persons and corporations, and in many ways, elaborately set forth in said petitions, the provisions of an order of injunction entered on July 10, 1923, by the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, in a cause pending in said court entitled West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Company, a Corporation, et cetera, v. Jno. P. White and Others. Upon the presentation of said petitions, on the 21st and 24th of April, 1925, respectively, the District Court duly entered its decrees directing the issue of attachments against each of the defendants requiring them to show cause on the 26th of April, 1925, why they should not be adjudged guilty of contempt of court in disobeying its lawful decree as complained of. The defendants promptly replied, denied the violation of the orders in question, and averred that they had not been guilty of contempt of court as charged.

The cause was heard upon petitions, answers, replications, and exhibits filed, and the appearance of sundry defendants in person as well as by counsel, and the court, on the 2d of June, 1925, decreed as follows:

"United States of America ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Co., a Corporation, etc., Plaintiff, v. John L. Lewis et al., Defendants. Criminal Contempt Proceeding, No. 8017. * * * The court is of the opinion, for the reasons given in a written opinion filed on the 8th day of May, 1925, and here made a part of the record, and also for the reasons given in the first paragraph of a memorandum of opinion filed May 16, 1925, which first paragraph is also hereby made a part of the record, and also for the reasons given in another memorandum of opinion this day handed down, which is also made a part of the record, that the said responses of the said defendants have sufficiently purged them of the contempt charged in the relator's petition, it is therefore further adjudged, ordered and decreed that the said petition be dismissed and that the said defendants be discharged, to all of which the relator objects and excepts.

"It is further considered by the court that the relator, the West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Company, be required to pay the costs of the prosecution of said petition for contempt, but that the defendants do not recover of the said West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Company their costs in said proceeding."

From the entry of this order writs of error were sued out, and are now under review herein.

The first question requiring our consideration is the motion made by the defendants in each case to dismiss the writs of error because, the decision of the lower court having resulted in the acquittal of the defendants, such action could not be made the subject of review by this court. The determination of this question depends upon whether the contempt proceedings are civil or criminal. If the latter, then defendants' ...

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4 cases
  • United States v. United Mine Workers of America Same v. Lewis, John United Mine Workers of America v. United States Lewis, John v. Same United Mine Workers of America v. Same
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 6 Marzo 1947
    ...& Range Co., 1911, 221 U.S. 418, 445, 31 S.Ct. 492, 499, 55 L.Ed. 797, 34 L.R.A.,N.S., 874; United States ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Bittner, 4 Cir., 1926, 11 F.2d 93, 95, with Nye v. United States, 1941, 313 U.S. 33, 42, 61 S.Ct. 810, 812, 85 L.Ed. 1172. 75 Cf. Nye v. Uni......
  • Grand Jury Investigation, In re
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 8 Enero 1980
    ...U.S. 310, 323, 12 S.Ct. 609, 36 L.Ed. 445 (1892); Wingert v. Kieffer, 29 F.2d 59 (4th Cir. 1928); United States ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Bittner, 11 F.2d 93 (4th Cir. 1926). The majority concludes that the contempt sought here is clearly civil rather than criminal. I dis......
  • Hawley v. Hawley, 7253.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 29 Julio 1940
    ...119. 14 See generally, 12 Am.Jur., Contempt, § 43. 15 See Wingert v. Kieffer, 4 Cir., 29 F. 2d 59; United States ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Bittner, 4 Cir., 11 F.2d 93; In re Paleais, 2 Cir., 296 F. 16 D.C.Code 1929, tit. 18, § 26. 17 Barksdale v. Morgan, 34 App.D.C. 549. ......
  • Danes v. Smith, A--640
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • 23 Octubre 1952
    ...must be dismissed if the proceeding was one in criminal rather than civil contempt. And see U.S. ex rel. West Virginia-Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Bittner, 11 F.2d 93 (C.C.A. 4, 1926). Under our present rules, a contempt proceeding, whether criminal or civil, is given the title of the principal ......

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