In an exercise of the discretionary rule-making authority over the lower federal courts, the Supreme Court in Cheff v. Schnackenburg directed that sentences exceeding six months may not be imposed absent a jury trial or waiver thereof. However, in obliquely withdrawing the previously asserted constitutional basis for the six-months limitation, the Court conceivably has undermined the viability of the criminal contemnor's "right" to a jury trial. Moreover, in light of the potential conflict between the Cheff directive and congressional intent, the precise scope and mode of application of the sentencing restriction remains unsettled.
Constitutional Law: The Supreme Court Constructs a Limited Right to Trial by Jury for Federal Criminal Contemnors,
1967 Duke Law Journal
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol16/iss3/6