In the circumstances of this case, in which petitioner was
convicted in a summary proceeding of criminal contempt and shortly
thereafter was committed to a state mental hospital, the fair
administration of criminal justice requires a plenary hearing under
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42(b) to determine the question
of his criminal responsibility for his conduct. Pp. 375 U. S.
308 F.2d 125, certiorari granted; judgment vacated; and case
The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted.
The petitioner was one of numerous defendants in a lengthy
criminal trial in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York. He was found guilty, but his conviction was
reversed on appeal. United States v. Bentvena,
916. For his conduct during the trial, the petitioner was found
guilty of criminal contempt in a summary proceeding conducted by
the trial judge under Rule 42(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure after the trial had ended. [Footnote 1
] This contempt conviction was affirmed on
appeal, one judge dissenting. 308 F.2d 125.
Page 375 U. S. 30
If the petitioner was legally responsible for his conduct during
the trial, there can be no doubt that his conduct was contumacious.
It is contended, however, that, at the time of the conduct in
question, the petitioner was suffering from a mental illness which
made him incapable of forming the criminal intent requisite for a
finding of guilt. No separate hearing was had upon this issue in
the contempt proceeding, although, during the course of the
previous criminal trial, the judge had heard conflicting expert
testimony upon the different question of the petitioner's mental
capacity to stand trial. Shortly after the contempt conviction, the
petitioner was found by state-appointed psychiatrists to be
suffering from schizophrenia, and committed to a state mental
hospital. Cf. Bush v. Texas, 372 U.
In the light of these circumstances, we hold that the fair
administration of federal criminal justice requires a plenary
hearing under Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
to determine the question of the petitioner's criminal
responsibility for his conduct. [Footnote 2
Page 375 U. S. 31
the judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is
remanded to the District Court.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN would affirm the
judgment below substantially for the reason given by Judge Smith in
his opinion for the Court of Appeals. United States v.
308 F.2d 125.
"Rule 42. Criminal Contempt."
"(a) Summary Disposition. A criminal contempt may be punished
summarily if the judge certifies that he saw or heard the conduct
constituting the contempt and that it was committed in the actual
presence of the court. The order of contempt shall recite the facts
and shall be signed by the judge and entered of record."
"Rule 42. Criminal Contempt."
"* * * *"
"(b) Disposition Upon Notice and Hearing. A criminal contempt
except as provided in subdivision (a) of this rule shall be
prosecuted on notice. The notice shall state the time and place of
hearing, allowing a reasonable time for the preparation of the
defense, and shall state the essential facts constituting the
criminal contempt charged and describe it as such. The notice shall
be given orally by the judge in open court in the presence of the
defendant or, on application of the United States attorney or of an
attorney appointed by the court for that purpose, by an order to
show cause or an order of arrest. The defendant is entitled to a
trial by jury in any case in which an act of Congress so provides.
He is entitle to admission to bail as provided in these rules. If
the contempt charged involves disrespect to or criticism of a
judge, that judge is disqualified from presiding at the trial or
hearing except with the defendant's consent. Upon a verdict or
finding of guilt, the court shall enter an order fixing the