Least Possible Power Rule
In a contempt proceeding, the court must exercise the least
power to obtain the desired result. This rule requires that the trial judge
expressly consider the feasibility of obtaining acceptable relief through
imposition of civil contempt before resorting to criminal contempt.
such a consideration is required, the judge need not in fact impose civil
penalties prior to the imposition of criminal penalties. See
States v. Wilson, 421 U.S. 309 (1975); Shillitani v. United
384 U.S. 364 (1966); NLRB v. A-Plus Roofing, Inc., 39 F.3d 1410 (9th
1994); Baker v. Eisenstadt, 456 F.2d 382 (1st Cir.), cert.
409 U.S. 846 (1972). Furthermore, this rule requires that summary punishment
reserved for "exceptional circumstances." Harris v. United States,
U.S. 162, 164 (1965). But see United States v. Wilson, 421
[cited in USAM 9-39.000]