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Supreme Court Rejects Texas Contempt Appeal

February 23, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal from Texas by seven people ordered imprisoned for 30 days for refusing to stand when a judge entered his courtroom.

The justices, over one dissenting vote, refused to hear arguments that the prison sentences for contempt violated the religious freedom of the five men and two women.

Only Justice Thurgood Marshall voted to hear arguments in the case.

The case stems from the appearance in Port Neches, Texas, municipal court of Charles Krupps on charges of driving without liability insurance.

Krupps and his friends remained seated on June 13, 1985 when Judge Donald Floyd left the courtroom as court recessed for the day.

The bailiff told Krupps and the others they were required to stand when Floyd entered or exited.

The next morning Floyd told the bailiff to inform Krupps and the others they would be held in contempt if they refused to rise when he entered. . The judge also said they could remain outside the court until the session began and then come into the room if they chose not to stand for him.

Krupps told the judge that as ″a follower of Christ″ he could not rise for someone in civil authority.

When court convened, Krupps and six others - Harold Edgington, Howard Mathews Sr., Vincent Rose, Lattie Jo Rose, Rosie Henley and John Henley - remained seated and were held in contempt.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last June ruled that the rights of the seven people were not violated.

″A direct refusal to rise upon the judge’s entrance interrupts the normal proceedings of the court (and) disregards the formality and seriousness of a court’s function,″ the state court said.

″A refusal to rise after being admonished of the rising requirement constitutes an act of disrespect toward the court and an act which obstructs the proper administration of justice,″ it added.

Noting that the seven people held in contempt had been given the option of remaining outside the courtroom until the session began, the state appeals court said, ″Any burden on their religious freedom at that point was self- imposed.″

It added: ″Showing admirable restraint Judge Floyd gave them a choice, and they decided to remain.″

John Henley has not yet served any of the jail time but the six others served 15 days before their sentences were stayed pending appeal, Austin lawyer James Harrington said in a recent interview.

The case is Krupps vs. Texas, 86-589.

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