Petitioner was tried and convicted for conspiracy to violate the
Smith Act, but the conviction was reversed by this Court.
354 U. S. 354
298. For contempts and other subsidiary matters in the course of
these proceedings, petitioner served over seven months'
imprisonment on the basis of actions by the District Court, several
of which were set aside on appeal. One contempt action resulted in
petitioner's conviction for eleven contempts, and she was sentenced
to eleven concurrent terms of one year's imprisonment. Finding that
there was only one contempt, this Court remanded the case to the
District Court for appropriate resentencing. 355 U. S. 355
66. The District Court resentenced petitioner to imprisonment for
one year for the single contempt.
certiorari granted, judgment vacated, and cause
remanded to the District Court with directions to reduce the
sentence to the time petitioner has already been confined in the
course of these proceedings. Pp. 356 U. S.
252 F.2d 568, judgment vacated and cause remanded to District
Court with directions.
This case has a long history, the course of which must be
summarized for understanding of the Court's disposition. On July
26, 1951, petitioner was arrested for conspiracy to violate the
Smith Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2385, and was released on furnishing
$7,500 bail. On the following day, bail was increased to $50,000
pending transfer of the proceedings to a different city, and
petitioner was recommitted. On August 2 petitioner was arraigned,
and, several days later, bail was set at $25,000. Petitioner's
Page 356 U. S. 364
writ of habeas corpus seeking a reduction of bail was dismissed.
The district judge who had fixed bail was disqualified, see
Connelly v. United States District Court,
191 F.2d 692, and
the district judge whose sentence is now under review was assigned
to the case. On motion of the Government, the court increased bail
to $50,000 on August 30; petitioner's motion to reduce bail and her
petition for a writ of habeas corpus were denied; on review of the
denial of habeas corpus, the Court of Appeals affirmed, Stack
192 F.2d 56. This Court, however, found that bail
had "not been fixed by proper methods," and remitted the case for
the proper remedy of a motion to reduce bail, Stack v.
Boyle, 342 U. S. 1
342 U. S. 7
District Court denied such motion by petitioner, United States
v. Schneiderman, 102 F. Supp.
; on appeal, the Court of Appeals ordered bail set at
$10,000. Stack v. United States,
193 F.2d 875. Shortly
thereafter, on December 10, 1951, petitioner, having been found to
have been improperly confined since August 30 of that year, was
released on bail.
The trial under the conspiracy indictment began on February 5,
1952. Testifying in her own defense, petitioner, on
cross-examination on June 26, refused to answer four questions
about Communist membership of other persons; she was adjudged
guilty of civil contempt and committed to jail until the contempt
had been purged. On June 30 she refused to answer eleven questions
about Communist membership of other persons; the court announced
its intention to treat these refusals as criminal contempt. At the
conclusion of the trial, petitioner was found guilty of conspiracy
to violate the Smith Act and was sentenced to serve five years'
imprisonment and to pay a $10,000 fine. The District Court denied
bail pending appeal of the conspiracy conviction; on application to
the Court of Appeals to fix bail, the case was remanded to the
District Court, which again denied bail. United
Page 356 U. S. 365
States v. Schneiderman,
106 F. Supp. 941. The Court of
Appeals then fixed bail at $20,000, and, on August 30, petitioner,
upon furnishing that amount, was released from custody, having been
in jail since June 26. The conspiracy conviction was later affirmed
by the Court of Appeals, 225 F.2d 146, but reversed by this Court,
354 U. S. 354
298. The indictment was eventually dismissed on motion of the
Petitioner had, in the meantime, on August 8, 1952, been
adjudged guilty of eleven criminal contempts for her eleven
refusals to answer on June 30, and she was sentenced by the
District Court to eleven one-year terms of imprisonment, to run
concurrently and to commence upon the completion of petitioner's
imprisonment for the conspiracy. It is as to this sentence that
review is sought here today.
On September 3, 1952, four days after petitioner's release from
custody, the District Court ordered her recommitted on the civil
contempt arising out of the four refusals to answer on June 26.
. The District Court denied her application for bail
pending appeal, but the Court of Appeals granted it, and she was
released two days after her commitment; the Court of Appeals
subsequently reversed the recommitment order of the District Court
on the ground that petitioner should not have been reconfined for
civil contempt after the close of the main trial. 227 F.2d 844. Two
days after her release on bail, on September 8, petitioner was
adjudged guilty of criminal contempt for the four June 26 refusals
and sentenced to four three-year terms of imprisonment, to run
concurrently. 107 F. Supp. 412. Petitioner was then reconfined; the
District Court denied her bail pending appeal, but the Court of
Appeals granted it, and she was released on bail three days after
her recommitment. The Court of Appeals subsequently reversed this
contempt judgment because of the District Court's failure
Page 356 U. S. 366
to give any notice that it intended to regard the June 26
refusals as criminal contempts, 227 F.2d 848.
Petitioner appealed her conviction of criminal contempt for the
eleven refusals to answer on June 30; the Court of Appeals
affirmed. 227 F.2d 851. This Court held that there was but one
contempt, not eleven, and that a sentence for only one offense
could be imposed. Accordingly, we vacated the one-year sentence for
that one conviction and remanded the case to the District Court for
determination of a new sentence appropriate in view of our setting
aside of the punishment for eleven offenses when in fact only one
was legally established. 355 U. S. 355
U.S. 66. On remand, the District Court, after hearing, resentenced
petitioner to one year's imprisonment. The court denied petitioner
bail pending appeal; the Court of Appeals ordered her admitted to
bail in the amount of $5,000, 252 F.2d 568, and she was released
after fifteen days' confinement. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
judgment of the District Court, noting that the sentence was
Reversing a judgment for contempt because of errors of
substantive law may naturally call for a reduction of the sentence
based on an extent of wrongdoing found unsustainable in law. Such
reduction of the sentence, however, normally ought not be made by
this Court. It should be left, on remand, to the sentencing court.
And so, when this Court found that only a single offense was
committed by petitioner, and not eleven offenses, it chose not to
reduce the sentence, but to leave this task, with gentle
intimations of the necessity for such action, to the District
Court. However, when, in a situation like this, the District Court
appears not to have exercised its discretion in the light of the
reversal of the judgment but, in effect, to have sought merely to
justify the original sentence, this Court has no alternative except
to exercise its supervisory power over the administration of
Page 356 U. S. 367
the lower federal courts by setting aside the sentence of the
Although petitioner's conviction under the Smith Act, the
substantive offense out of which this subsidiary matter arose, was
reversed on appeal, and the indictment itself dismissed on motion
of the Government, she has, in fact, spent seven months in jail in
the course of these proceedings. Not unmindful of petitioner's
offense, this Court is of the view, exercising the judgment that we
are now called upon to exercise, that the time that petitioner has
already served in jail is an adequate punishment for her offense in
refusing to answer questions, and is to be deemed in satisfaction
of the new sentence herein ordered formally to be imposed.
Accordingly, the writ of certiorari is granted, and the judgment of
the Court of Appeals is vacated and the cause remanded to the
District Court with directions to reduce the sentence to the time
petitioner has already been confined in the course of these
It is so ordered.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE BLACK, and MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS
concur in the result for reasons set out in their dissents in
Yates v. United States, 355 U. S. 66
355 U. S. 76
and Green v. United States, 356 U.
, 356 U. S. 193
but under constraint of the Court's holdings in those cases they
acquiesce in the opinion here.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK, with whom MR. JUSTICE BURTON and MR. JUSTICE
WHITTAKER concur, dissenting.
It is for us to say whether the one-year sentence was improper,
rather than to pass on the adequacy of time already served on other
judgments. Petitioner has served but 15 days on this sentence, and
I therefore dissent from the judgment releasing her.