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In re Tauber

decided: July 30, 1965.

IN THE MATTER OF JOSEPH N. TAUBER, APPELLANT,
v.
HONORABLE WALTER A. GORDON



Reargued May 25, 1965.

Biggs, Chief Judge, and McLaughlin, Kalodner, Staley, Hastie, Ganey, Smith and Freedman, Circuit Judges. McLaughlin, Circuit Judge (dissenting).

Author: Per Curiam

During the course of the trial of a civil tax controversy in the District Court of the Virgin Islands, the court cited the appellant, an Assistant Attorney General who was trying the case for the Government of the Virgin Islands, for criminal contempt and summarily fined him $100. The entire procedure of citation and summary conviction appears in the verbatim transcript of the proceedings immediately before and immediately after the court reconvened following an off-the-record discussion in chambers:

"IN * * * CHAMBERS"

"Court: Let the record show that the Government wanted to call Mr. Charles Haim back on the stand as an adverse party and the Court refused on the grounds that he was on the witness stand for three and a half hours on cross-examination and he's a sick man -- very elderly, and has had a stroke and had to go to the Doctor as reported to the Court, and I'm not going to allow him to be called back to the stand.

"IN OPEN COURT"

"Mr. Tauber: I must make a request to the Court that in view of what happened in Chambers, I personally would like to request to seek the assistance of counsel for myself because of the contempt threat that was placed on my head in chambers and not in open court.

"Court: I'm placing it right here in open court. If you keep on talking I'll fine you for contempt of court right now. In the first place, that was a private thing in there and it was perfectly friendly until you just kept talking and now you come out here --.

"Mr. Tauber: (Interposing) Something was put on the record, your Honor.

"Court: There was nothing put on the record.

"Mr. Tauber: About Mr. Haim not taking the stand.

"Court: Mr. Tauber, Counsel asked that we go into private chambers and discuss something and I told you when we left there that we could put on the record that Mr. Charles Haim was not going to be permitted to go on the stand.

"You have deliberately come out here and started another argument.

"I'm going to fine you one hundred dollars ($100.00) for contempt of court. ...


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