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Contemptuously Amusing: Criminal and civil contempt

May 23, 2016

Source: imgur


We law students love an obscure case… For many, an injection of humour results in greater comprehension of legal principles and court decisions. In my Media and Communications Law elective this semester, we covered the topics of criminal and civil contempt. Whilst not denying that contempt of court is a serious issue, as an act that undermines public confidence in the judicial system, I thought I’d share with you some of the more amusing facts, as extreme examples of what not to do when you next visit court…


R v Ogawa [2009] QCA 307 

Source: Cheezburger.com


The defendant refused to clothe herself appropriately and repeatedly screamed at the judge during proceedings. 



Langdell v Sutton (1737) Barnes 32 

Source: Tumblr


Jurors determined their verdict by “hustling half-pence in a hat” (tossing a coin). 



Balogh v St Albans Crown Court [1975] QB 73 

Source: Reddit


A bored solicitor’s clerk at a trial attempted to release laughing gas in court through the air vents, as a means of entertainment. 



R v Gray (1900) 2 81 LT 534 

Source: Tumblr


An article published at the end of a trial referred to the judge as “an impudent little man in horse hair, a microcosm of conceit and empty-headedness”.


Schot and Barclay [1997] 2 Cr App R 383

Source: Fox TV


The contemnors shouted abuse at the judge and/or threw something at him or her. 



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