Contempt of court is an act of disobedience or disrespect towards the judicial branch of the government, or an interference with its orderly process. It is an offense against a court of justice or a person to whom the judicial functions of the sovereignty have been delegated.
The power of a federal court to punish a contempt of its authority is limited by Title 18, United States Code, Section 401 to:
"(1) Misbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice; (2) Misbehavior of any of its officers in their official transactions; (3) Disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command."
[cited in JM 9-39.000]