A. Introduction

Information in this chapter is taken from the Texas Center for the Judiciary Bench Book chapter on Contempt. This version does not include information on a judges’ actions in court when witnessing contempt, drafting orders, enforcing orders, and appellate remedies. Please contact the Texas Center for the Judiciary at www.yourhonor.com for access to its bench book, additional and detailed guidance, and associated forms.

Texas law recognizes two kinds of contempt and two different types of remedies:

•   Direct contempt occurs in the presence of the court during court proceedings and is immediately punishable by the court

•   Indirect or constructive contempt occurs outside the court’s presence, and dictates stricter procedural standards

The remedies for contempt are similarly divided into two categories:

•   Civil or coercive and

•   Criminal or punitive

The remedy used by the court, not the conduct of the contemnor, defines the contempt remedies as civil or criminal. Although the term “contempt of court” conjures images of unchecked authority, it reality the power is limited. A high percentage of contempt judgments are set aside by appellate courts. Exacting standards apply.