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Contumacy refers to a person’s refusal to appear in court when they have been legally summoned or their refusal to follow a court order. This refusal can lead to the judge finding the individual in contempt of the court. 

In United States v. Hudson, the Supreme Court stated that courts have implied powers, which includes punishing individuals for contumacy. Judges have the ability to punish contumacy through either fines or jail time. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]