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Legal Information: Maryland
Updated: November 10, 2020
Rule 15-203. Direct civil and criminal contempt
(a) Summary Imposition of Sanctions. The court against which a direct civil or criminal contempt has been committed may impose sanctions on the person who committed it summarily if (1) the presiding judge has personally seen, heard, or otherwise directly perceived the conduct constituting the contempt and has personal knowledge of the identity of the person committing it, and (2) the contempt has interrupted the order of the court and interfered with the dignified conduct of the court’s business. The court shall afford the alleged contemnor an opportunity, consistent with the circumstances then existing, to present exculpatory or mitigating information. If the court summarily finds and announces on the record that direct contempt has been committed, the court may defer imposition of sanctions until the conclusion of the proceeding during which the contempt was committed.
Cross reference: As to possible constitutional limitations on summary imposition of sanctions, including the right to jury trial and the right to counsel, see Codispoti v. Pennsylvania, 418 U.S. 506 (1974); Bloom v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 194, 202 (1968); Cheff v. Schnackenberg, 384 U.S. 373 (1966); Kawamura v. State, 299 Md. 276, 292 (1984); Wilkins v. State, 293 Md. 335 (1982); Dorsey v. State, 56 Md.App. 54 (1983).
Committee note: Sanctions may be imposed immediately upon the finding of the contempt, or, in the court’s discretion, may be deferred to a later time in the proceeding. Deferral of a sanction does not affect its summary nature. The sanction remains summary in nature in that no hearing is required; the court simply announces and imposes the sanction.
(b) Order of Contempt. Either before sanctions are imposed, or promptly thereafter, the court shall issue a written order stating that a direct contempt has been committed and specifying:
(1) whether the contempt is civil or criminal,
(2) the evidentiary facts known to the court from the judge’s own personal knowledge as to the conduct constituting the contempt, and as to any relevant evidentiary facts not so known, the basis of the court’s findings,
(3) the sanction imposed for the contempt,
(4) in the case of civil contempt, how the contempt may be purged, and
(5) in the case of criminal contempt, (A) if the sanction is incarceration, a determinate term, and (B) any condition under which the sanction may be suspended, modified, revoked, or terminated.
(c) Affidavits. In a summary proceeding, affidavits may be offered for the record by the contemnor before or after sanctions have been imposed.
(d) Record. The record in cases of direct contempt in which sanctions have been summarily imposed shall consist of (1) the order of contempt; (2) if the proceeding during which the contempt occurred was recorded, a transcript of that part of the proceeding; and (3) any affidavits offered or evidence admitted in the proceeding.”
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