The Law: Harbinger for Hoffman?

The Supreme Court generally gives trial judges wide latitude in running their courtrooms—even to permitting the shackling, gagging or removal of obstreperous defendants. But last week the Justices unanimously curbed a judge's power to hand out contempt sentences for courtroom misbehavior. Using carefully uncritical language, the court held that a judge may cite a defendant at the moment of his contemptuous action, but that if the judge chooses to wait until the end of the trial, "it is generally wise where the marks of the unseemly conduct have left personal stings to ask a fellow judge to take his place." The...

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