Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


Willful disobedience. The intentional failure of an individual to obey a summons to appear in court to defend against a charge or to obey an order rendered by the court.

Contumacy is a sufficient basis for finding an individual in Contempt of court.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the wilful refusal of a person to appear before a court or to comply with a court order.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CONTUMACY, civil law. The refusal or neglect of a party accused to appear and answer to a charge preferred against him in a court of justice. This word is derived from the Latin contumacia, disobedience. 1 Bro. Civ. Law, 455; Ayl. Parer. 196; Dig. 50, 17, 52; Code Nap. art. 22.
     2. Contumacy is of two kinds, actual and presumed: actual contumacy is when the party before the court refuses to obey some order of the court; presumed contumacy is the act of refusing or declining to appear upon being cited. 3 Curt. Ecc. R. 1.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The writ of error, like the appeal, only brings the record before the court; and if the citation be disregarded, the non-appearance of the party is not considered as a default or contumacy. Judgment cannot be rendered as on a default; but the record is to be inspected, and the judgment reversed or affirmed, as the constitution or law of the United States may, or may not, have been violated.
Perhaps their reading merely reflects their own bias; "and then all this stubbornness and contumacy towards the King and his laws, is nothing but pride of heart and ambition, or else imposture" (ibid.
Robert Moore's "crabbed contumacy" (S, 38) exemplifies the mood of intractable difference that settles over Shirley.
His criticism is in contumacy to the ideals upon which the whole structure rests.
While at Oxford he wrote and circulated a pamphlet called The Necessity of Atheism, and was expelled for " contumacy in refusing to answer certain questions " about it.
More than a double felony, a suicide, an act of self-murder or self-injury or any premeditated attempt is all but contumacy to God, a sheer rebellion against His greater plan of creation, a human interference in God's will and a blatant intrusion or stepping into the domain all that belongs to God.
The decree accuses Bozek of a ninth violation: "Protracted contumacy in schism." The archbishop is empanelling a tribunal to consider this charge, which could lead to Bozek's dismissal from the clerical state.
no person can be punished for contumacy as a witness before either House, unless his testimony is required in a matter into which that House has jurisdiction to inquire, and we feel equally sure that neither of these bodies possesses the general power of making inquiry into the private affairs of the citizen.
At one moment there is to be a large army to lay prostrate the liberties of the people; at another moment the militia of Virginia are to be dragged from their homes five or six hundred miles to tame the republican contumacy of Massachusetts; and that of Massachusetts is to be transported an equal distance to subdue the refractory haughtiness of the aristocratic Virginians.
(94) Elderships were by the ordinance of March 1646 empowered to summon accused persons and witnesses by warrant, and in cases of contumacy to have a justice of the peace imprison the recusant.
disregard standard as requiring something akin to outright contumacy toward the applicable law of discrimination.