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HOLT ET AL. v. VIRGINIA

decided: May 17, 1965.

HOLT ET AL
v.
VIRGINIA



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Goldberg

Author: Black

[ 381 U.S. Page 132]

 MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioners, both of whom are lawyers, were adjudged guilty and each was fined $50 for contempt of court by the Circuit Court of the City of Hopewell, Virginia. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting petitioners' contentions that their convictions violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 205 Va. 332, 136 S. E. 2d 809. We granted certiorari. 379 U.S. 957.

The charges against petitioners came about in this way. Petitioner Dawley represented certain defendants in a libel suit pending before Circuit Judge Holladay. The libel case was dismissed by agreement of the parties. After the dismissal Judge Holladay had the court clerk and counsel, including the petitioner Dawley, come into the judge's chambers and there the judge asked Dawley three times if he had had anything to do with making the defendants in the libel case "unavailable to be served with subpoenas." Dawley refused to answer and later, in court, again refused to answer. Judge Holladay then directed the Commonwealth's Attorney to prepare an order directing Dawley to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. Dawley thereafter filed a motion requesting Judge Holladay to disqualify himself from trying the contempt case. Judge Holladay denied this motion. Dawley then filed a motion for change of venue. Petitioner Holt appeared as counsel representing Dawley and read this motion to the judge as a part of his argument urging a change of venue. It is upon the allegations

[ 381 U.S. Page 133]

     about Judge Holladay in that motion and the reading of them by Holt that the present convictions for contempt are based.

The motion for change of venue charged, among other things, that because of local prejudice Dawley could not get a fair trial in Hopewell and, crucial to this contempt conviction,

"3. That the said Judge Carlton E. Holladay, who presided as Judge in said libel suit, and who fails and refuses to disqualify himself as Judge in the pending trial of the Defendant, E. A. Dawley, Jr., has, with respect to said contempt action and is now in effect and/or in fact acting as police officer, chief prosecution witness, adverse witness for the defense, grand jury, chief prosecutor and judge.

"4. That in addition to the foregoing, said Judge Carlton E. Holladay did intimidate and harass and is intimidating and harassing the lawyer representing said E. A. Dawley, Jr., viz, Leonard W. Holt, Esq., the effect of which is to seriously hamper the efforts of said Leonard W. Holt in defending the said E. A. Dawley, Jr.; that said harassment and intimidation arises out of and is connected solely with said Leonard W. Holt's participating in the defense of said E. A. Dawley, Jr. in the contempt action; that part of said harassment and intimidation occurred at a hearing of this contempt action in the Hopewell Circuit Court on January 8, 1962, at which hearing the said Carlton E. Holladay revealed that he had been making an independent investigation and inquiry of Mr. Holt's conduct in this contempt defense, and said Judge at said place and time made the statement that he would 'deal with' said Leonard W. Holt after he, the judge, had dealt with said E. A. Dawley, Jr."

[ 381 U.S. Page 134]

     After these charges were read to Judge Holladay by Holt, this colloquy took place:

"The Court: On the motion for change of venue, does that apply whether your client would be tried before a jury or before the ...


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