The Style section suggested that convicted rap singer Kimberly Jones (Lil' Kim) and New York Times reporter Judith Miller were being "sentenced" in court ["No False Moves in These Sentencing Walks," July 8].

Miller was not in court to be "sentenced" to anything. She has not been accused of a crime. She is being held to coerce her to testify as a "recalcitrant witness," 28 U.S. Code 1826.

Jones, however, had been convicted of a crime and was sentenced to jail.

"Civil contempt" is the common law expression for a recalcitrant witness. Civil contemnors are deemed to hold the keys to the jail in their pocket, because they can "purge" the contempt at any time by testifying. Being held pursuant to the civil contempt powers of the court is a civil, not criminal, proceeding. For Miller, there was no "sentencing walk."

It is unfortunate that The Post failed to make the distinction between being sentenced to jail upon conviction of a crime (Jones) and being held to vindicate the coercive power of the court (Miller).

-- Anthony R. Martin


The writer is an adjunct professor of law.

When will The Post invoke a smidgen of good taste and stop Robin Givhan from turning often heart-rending news into a fashion show? Her latest escapade trivializes the ordeal of New York Times reporter Judith Miller as she headed off to prison. Lest we forget, Miller chose jail to protect our right to be informed, not titillated.

-- Carl Goldstein

Silver Spring