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Criminal Resource Manual

771. Defenses—Good Faith Reliance Upon the Advice of Counsel

According to the majority view, acting in good faith upon the advice of counsel is not a defense to an action for criminal contempt. See United States v. Remini, 967 F.2d 754 (2d Cir. 1992); United States v. Seavers, 472 F.2d 607 (6th Cir. 1973); United States v. Dimauro, 441 F.2d 428 (8th Cir. 1971); United States v. Snyder, 428 F.2d 520, 522 (9th Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 903 (1970); United States v. Goldfarb, 167 F.2d 735 (2d Cir. 1948). Good faith reliance upon the advice of counsel may, however, be considered in mitigation of punishment. United States v. Custer Channel Wing Corp., 247 F. Supp. 481, 503 (D. Md. 1965), aff'd, 376 F.2d 675 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 850 (1967). Some decisions have held that good faith reliance upon the advice of counsel is a complete defense in a criminal contempt action. In re Eskay, 122 F.2d 819 (3d Cir. 1941).

[cited in USAM 9-39.000]