Arthur G. Stein, Stein & Winters, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Roslyn M. Litman, Pittsburgh, for amicus curiae.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., concurs in the result.
Appellant, Arthur R. Gorr, an attorney, was found guilty of contempt of court and ordered to pay a $100 fine or be committed to jail in default of payment. At the time of the incident which led to the contempt citation, appellant was trial counsel for defendants in a negligence suit. During the noon recess following the contempt citation, appellant, who was unable to pay the fine forthwith, was handcuffed in the courtroom and then taken to jail. Sometime later that day, he was returned to the trial court, and a supersedeas was entered. This appeal followed.
The incident with which we are concerned took place at the beginning of the negligence suit. The plaintiffs had called an officer of one of the defendant corporations to the witness stand and had just completed questioning him. The court then addressed appellant, Arthur R. Gorr, and the following occurred:
"THE COURT: Mr. Gorr, you may cross-examine.
Q. Mr. Townsend, do you expect to be in this city tomorrow and Friday?
A. I have engagements out of the city tomorrow and Friday.
THE COURT: That is interesting, but what is the purpose of it?
MR. GORR: Is there an objection to my question, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes. Let's stick to this case. Let's not get into social intercourse. The jury will disregard the last question. Proceed with questioning the witness with matters relevant to this case.
MR. GORR: I object to the words --
THE COURT: Mr. Gorr, will you please proceed with the case.
MR. GORR: I am proceeding with my case.
THE COURT: Proceed and you will ...