Hovey v. Elliott,
167 U.S. 409 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hovey v. Elliott, 167 U.S. 409 (1897)

Hovey v. Elliott

No. 255

Argued March 30-31, 1897

Decided May 24, 1897

167 U.S. 409


It is not within the power of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia to order the answer of the defendant in a chancery suit pending in that court to be stricken from the files, and a decree to be entered that the bill be taken pro confesso against him, simply because he was held to be guilty of contempt in neglecting to pay into court money held by him which was the subject of controversy in the suit, and declined to appear when summoned to do so.

A court possessing plenary power to punish for contempt, unlimited by statute, has not the right to summon a defendant to answer, and then after obtaining jurisdiction by the summons, refuse to allow the party summoned to answer or strike his answer from the files, suppress the testimony in his favor, and condemn him without consideration thereof and without a hearing, on the theory that he has been guilty of a contempt of court.

The judicial history of the law concerning contempt of court in England and in this country reviewed and considered.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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