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Copyright (c) 1994 North Dakota Law Review
North Dakota Law Review

NOTE: NORTH DAKOTA'S NEW CONTEMPT LAW: WILL IT MEAN ORDER IN THE COURT?

1994

70 N.D. L. Rev. 1027

Author

Wayne R. Johnson *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The judicial use of the contempt of court power has been a source of confusion that has "plagued the legal profession for centuries." 1 Much of this confusion arises from judicial attempts to classify contemptuous conduct as either civil or criminal. 2 Although, as one writer notes, classification problems are not unique to contempt law, 3 "[n]owhere else is there such recurring confusion and mistake as here." 4

In 1993, the North Dakota Legislature attempted to eliminate some of this historic confusion by passing legislation which eliminates the need to differentiate civil and criminal contempts. 5 The statute attempts to achieve this by abandoning the use of these concepts, adopting instead the more general concept of "contempt of court," for which either a punitive or remedial sanction may be imposed. 6 Thus, under the new statute, courts are no longer required to determine whether contemptuous acts are civil or criminal because they are merely contempts of court. Nevertheless, upon concluding that a contempt has taken place, a court will be faced with a decision as to the type of sanction it will seek to impose upon the actor. 7 This decision is quite an important one because it establishes the procedure that the court must follow during the contempt proceeding, which, in turn, ensures that all of the necessary procedural safeguards are applied throughout the proceeding, and also eliminates some of the risk that the court's findings will subsequently be reversed on due process grounds. ...
 
 
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