Physical Restraints During Trial Case in California

In People v. Ramirez (2006) 39 Cal.4th 398, the defendant claimed on appeal that his restraint by leg chains during the trial deprived him of his right to due process and a fair trial. During jury selection, the court was informed that the defendant was unhappy with wearing a leg brace. Counsel and the court discussed whether the defendant should wear leg chains, which the defendant preferred, or a brace. At one point during the proceedings, counsel reported that the defendant was of the belief that he should wear neither. The court responded: "'One or the other at this point, and if you want a hearing as to whether or not we ought to have any restraints at all, I will be happy to give that to you on a Friday sometime and we'll thrash it out.'" (Id. at p. 449.) The defendant did not request a further hearing concerning whether restraints of any type were justified. The Supreme Court concluded that "although we could construe as an objection to the use of physical restraints defense counsel's passing comment that 'I think my client's position is that he should have neither' a leg brace or leg chains, defendant failed to preserve this issue for review because, despite the court's invitation to resolve the issue at a later hearing, he did not request such a hearing or otherwise press for a ruling on the necessity for physical restraints. Defendant's failure to press the court for a ruling 'deprived the trial court of the opportunity to correct potential error.' " (Ramirez, supra, 39 Cal.4th at p. 450.)