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Criminal Resource Manual

761. Indirect Criminal Contempt—Federal Jurisdiction and Venue

Although the courts possess an inherent power to enforce obedience to their orders so that they may properly perform their functions, Myers v. United States, 264 U.S. 95, 103 (1924), the federal courts' contempt power is limited by 18 U.S.C. § 401 and by Rule 42, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. See United States v. Wilson, 421 U.S. 309, 315 n. 6 (1975); Nye v. United States, 313 U.S. 33, 45 (1941). Accordingly, all forms of contempt, whether they be criminal, civil, indirect or direct, must fall within one of the three categories of misbehavior described in 18 U.S.C. §  401. Indirect contempts come within 18 U.S.C. § 401(2) or (3), and the "so near thereto clause" of 18 U.S.C. § 401(1). Direct contempts are confined to the "in presence" clause of 18 U.S.C. § 401(1).

The court wherein proper venue on federal jurisdiction exists in an 18 U.S.C. § 401 proceeding has been generally agreed to be the court which rendered the decree and not the court located in the district where the violation occurred. See Myers, 264 U.S. at 101; Stiller v. Hardman, 324 F.2d 626, 628 (2d Cir. 1963).

[cited in USAM 9-39.000]