Rambo v. Fraczkowski

In Rambo v. Fraczkowski, 350 A.2d 774 (Del. Super. 1975), contempt charges were brought against petitioners for the alleged violation of a bail condition that was set by the Municipal Court of Wilmington, Delaware. The petitioners had been arrested and charged with misdemeanor offenses for certain activities during the course of a teachers' strike. As a condition of bond for their release pending trial, the Municipal Court imposed a curfew under which they were prohibited from leaving their residences between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday, except to go to their regular employment in the public school system. The petitioners allegedly violated this condition and criminal charges were brought against them in the Municipal Court. Subsequent to the time of the alleged violation of their curfew order as contained in their bond for release, a hearing was held by Superior Court to consider an application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus which the petitioners filed seeking to have the curfew condition vacated. After hearing argument as to whether the condition was unconstitutional, the Superior Court ordered the condition "vacated as void because the Judge abused his discretion." Rambo, 350 A.2d at 775. The petitioners then argued that because the bail condition was ultimately held to be "void," they could not be charged for criminal contempt charges for violating it. The Delaware Superior Court denied the petitioners' argument in that regard. In Rambo, the Delaware Superior Court followed "the great weight of authority" which permits disobedience of a court order "with impunity" only where the court that issued the order lacks either (1) jurisdiction over the parties or (2) the power to enter an order of the general type which is entered (i.e. subject matter jurisdiction). Id. The Rambo court also found that there must be the availability of an adequate and effective remedy for the orderly review of the challenged ruling and that the order must not require an irrevocable and permanent surrender of a constitutional right. Id.