Legal Memorandum: Finding a Non-party in Contempt

Issue: When may a non-party be found in contempt?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Contempt; Non-party; Notice or knowledge of court's order
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 896 F. Supp. 1549; 634 F. Supp. 1536
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2007

A non-party to litigation may be found to be in contempt for violation of a court’s order, as long as certain requirements are met.  Annotation, Violation of State Court Order by One Other than Party as Contempt, 7 A.L.R.4th 894, 897 (1981).  “Those requirements are that the nonparty have notice or knowledge of the court’s order and either act in concert with or be in privity with a person to whom the court’s order is directed.”  Id. at 897 (citation omitted).  Further, a nonparty is not necessarily entitled to a hearing prior to being found in contempt, nor is it necessarily error for a court to summarily impose the contempt order.  See United States v. McLain, No. 06-14-P-H4 (D. Me. June 7, 2006) (no right to evidentiary hearing prior to finding of contempt if there are no disputed facts); United States v. McVeigh, 896 F. Supp. 1549, 1555 (W.D. Okla. 1995) (in civil contempt context, due process does not require evidentiary hearing when there are no material issues of fact).  See also United States v. Renfroe, 634 F. Supp. 1536 (W.D. Pa. 1986), aff’d, 806 F.2d 254 (3rd Cir. 1986).


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