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In re Clawans

Decided: October 2, 1961.

IN THE MATTER OF LILLIAN CLAWANS, CHARGED WITH CONTEMPT


Goldmann, Foley and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, S.j.a.d.

Goldmann

Lillian Clawans, an attorney of this State, filed appeals from two judgments of contempt committed in the face of the court (Assignment Judge Waugh of Essex County). We consolidated the appeals for briefing and argument.

The first contempt occurred December 5, 1960. Judge Waugh called the civil and criminal appeal list at 9:30 A.M. Miss Clawans was defense attorney in State v. Bell , and when the case was called the State announced it was ready. The assignment clerk informed the court that Miss Clawans had telephoned that she would be 15 or 20 minutes late. Judge Waugh then said, "All right, mark it 'ready.'" The following occurred shortly after 10 A.M.:

"The Court: Miss Clawans, you have an appeal.

Miss Clawans: I am looking for my client.

The Court: Will you please come back?

Miss Clawans: I will have something to say to you when I come back.

The Court: Will you please come back, Miss Clawans?

Miss Clawans: No, I will not.

The Court: Miss Clawans, you will please come back.

Miss Clawans: I will not. I am looking for my client. I have had enough from you. You are a conspirator. I went before the Senate Judicial Committee on a complaint I made against you that you weren't qualified for a judicial position, and they held up your appointment. Then you conspired when I was in Europe on an emergency flight to see my sick aunt, you conspired against me, and you know it is not a lie. I have been trying, since I have been indicted by the Grand Jury, to appear before the Grand Jury, and I am reliably informed, and I want the world to know, that you said I can't appear before the Grand Jury until I make an application before you.

I am not going to take this stuff any more. I have suffered from you for thirteen years. This is not a new thing. It is going on for thirteen years.

The Court: Miss Clawans, are you ready on your appeal?

Miss Clawans: I have to look for my client.

The Court: Miss Clawans, are you ready on the appeal?

Miss Clawans: I don't know until I look for my client.

The Court: Miss Clawans, I am going to hold you in contempt of court for your language before me."

The certification and order for sentence filed by Judge Waugh (see R.R. 3:8-1 and 4:87-1), recites that this conduct was observed and heard by numerous members of the bar who were present to answer the call, as well as by court attendants and spectators. Miss Clawans was summarily convicted of criminal contempt and, after repeated adjournments, fined $100, which she paid under protest.

The second contempt occurred February 21, 1961. Miss Clawans had pending in the Essex County Court three appeals from municipal court convictions in State v. Frazier, East Orange v. Frazier and State v. Garfinkel. At the daily call held just before 10 A.M., the prosecuting attorney informed the court that the State had had its witnesses in court on a number of occasions but that they had not been brought in that morning because the prosecutor's office had been unable to get word as to whether the defense was ready. Garfinkel, one of the defendants-appellants, then informed the court that Miss Clawans was ...


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