Lamb v. Cramer,
285 U.S. 217 (1932)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lamb v. Cramer, 285 U.S. 217 (1932)

Lamb v. Cramer

No. 432

Argued February 17, 1932

Decided March 14, 1932

285 U.S. 217


1. An attorney for a defendant in a suit to set aside conveyances in fraud of creditors, received from his client while the cause was pending a transfer of part of the property in controversy, as a fee for legal services. Later a decree was entered adjudging that the plaintiffs had liens on all the property involved, and appointing a receiver to liquidate the liens.


(1) That the attorney took the transfer subject to the equities alleged in the bill and to the decree. P. 285 U. S. 219.

(2) His retention of the property after entry of the decree was a contempt of court which might be proceeded against civilly. P. 285 U. S. 219.

(3) A proceeding in contempt for the purpose of forcing restoration of the diverted property in order to carry out the decree in the main suit for the benefit of the plaintiffs was a civil proceeding. P. 285 U. S. 220.

2. The same conduct may be both civil and criminal contempt. P. 285 U. S. 221.

3. It is the purpose of the punishment, rather than the character of the act punished, which determines whether the proceeding is for civil or criminal contempt. P. 285 U. S. 220.

4. A judgment of the District Court dismissing a civil contempt proceeding for want of jurisdiction held final and appealable. P. 285 U. S. 221.

5. A civil contempt proceeding in aid of a suit in equity and of the decree made or to be made therein may be maintained independently of the suit, and is independently appealable. Id.

6. Obscure assignments of error held construable as asserting the grounds of reversal adopted by the court below. Id.

7. In the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a reversal may be based upon an error appearing on the face of the record, even though unassigned. Id.

48 F.2d 537 affirmed.

Certiorari, 284 U.S. 609, to review a decree reversing the dismissal of a petition to punish for contempt. See the next case.

Page 285 U. S. 218

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