Reporter freed after serving time for contempt conviction
ALABAMA–A reporter convicted of contempt of court for leaving a courtroom against a judge’s orders was released in late April from the Morgan County Jail in Decatur after serving a three-day sentence.
The Court of Criminal Appeals in Montgomery upheld the lower court conviction despite the Decatur Daily’s argument that journalist Seth Blomeley should not be punished for making a good-faith effort to gather news. The paper also argued that Blomeley was denied due process because the contempt was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appeals court Judge John Patterson wrote that the lower court’s contempt finding “was essential to prevent diminution of the court’s dignity and authority before the public.”
Former Circuit Judge Bennett McRae of Decatur found Blomeley in contempt of court in early December, and later fined him $100 and court costs for following convicted murderer Roy Burgess Jr. out of a courtroom after Burgess began shouting and turned over a table upon hearing his death sentence. McRae had told all spectators to remain seated and not to leave the courtroom while Burgess was being removed.
While serving his three-day sentence, Blomeley acted as a jail trusty in the county license commissioner’s office during the day, and slept in the jail each night. (Alabama v. Blomeley; Media Counsel: Jim Barton, Burmingham)