Fisher v. Pace/Dissent Rutledge

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Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinions

United States Supreme Court

336 U.S. 155

Fisher  v.  Pace

 Argued: and Submitted Dec. 9, 1948. --- Decided: Feb 7, 1949

Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE, dissenting.

Without recounting further than is done in other opinions the facts of this unfortunate episode, I have concluded that the record here discloses answers or remarks made by petitioner to the court which, in some instances, may well have justified punishment for contempt, but for one circumstance. That is, I regret to say, the con lusion to which I have been forced from the record as a whole that in the course of the colloquy and especially in the rapid succession of fines, commitment to jail, and order for removal from the courtroom, as well as in the unjudicial language employed by the judge, the trial court acted in the heat of temper and not in that calm control which the fair administration of judicial office commands under all circumstances.

Lawyers owe a large, but not an obsequious, duty of respect to the court in its presence. But their breach of this obligation in no case justifies correction by an act or acts from the bench intemperate in character, overriding judgment. Since the case comes here upon the sequence of events taken as an entirety, I do not undertake to separate one portion of the judgment from another. Accordingly, as the case stands here, I must take the entire sentence as infected with the fault I have noted. It follows, in my view, that the judgment should be reversed. Whatever the provocation, there can be no due process in trial in the absence of calm judgment and action,untinged with anger, from the bench.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).