Wood v. Georgia
370 U.S. 375 (1962)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Wood v. Georgia, 370 U.S. 375 (1962)

Wood v. Georgia

No. 369

Argued March 29, 1962

Decided June 25, 1962

370 U.S. 375

Syllabus

In the midst of a local political campaign, a County Judge, in the presence of representatives of news media assembled at the Judge's request, issued a charge to a grand jury giving it special instructions to investigate rumors and accusations of alleged bloc voting by Negroes and the rumored use of money by political candidates to obtain their votes. The next day, while the grand jury was in session, petitioner, an elected Sheriff who was a candidate for reelection, issued from his office in the same building a press statement criticizing the Judge's action and urging citizens to take notice when their judges threatened political intimidation and persecution of voters under the guise of law enforcement. Petitioner was cited in the County Court for contempt, on the ground that his statement was calculated to be contemptuous of the Court and to obstruct the grand jury in its investigation and that it constituted a "clear, present and imminent danger" to the administration of justice. Petitioner issued a further statement repeating substantially his earlier charges and asserting that his defense would be that he had spoken the truth. The contempt citation was then amended by the addition of another count based on this latter statement and a charge that it constituted a clear and present danger to the grand jury investigation and to the disposition of the contempt citation against him. Without making any findings or giving any reasons for its conclusion that his conduct actually obstructed the grand jury or contempt proceedings, the trial court adjudged petitioner guilty of contempt and sentenced him to fine and imprisonment.

Held: The record does not support a finding that petitioner's statements presented a clear and present danger to the administration of justice; and his conviction violated his right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 370 U. S. 376-395.

103 Ga.App. 305, 119 S.E.2d 261, reversed.

Page 370 U. S. 376

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