Restraining the Defendant During Trial in California
Restraining the a Criminal Defendant During Trial in California - Case Law:
In Deck v. Missouri (2005) 544 U.S. 622, a majority of the United States Supreme Court held that the use of physical restraints on a criminal defendant visible to the jury absent a trial court determination, in the exercise of its discretion, that they are justified by a state interest specific to a particular trial, such as courtroom security and the risk of escape, violates a defendant's rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (544 U.S. at p. 624.)
Writing for the majority, Justice Breyer explained that "the criminal process presumes that the defendant is innocent until proved guilty. Visible shackling undermines the presumption of innocence and the related fairness of the factfinding process. " (Id. at p. 630.)
He further noted that unjustified shackling can interfere with the defendant's right to counsel and a meaningful defense. (Id. at p. 631.)
Last, he asserted that the routine use of shackles in front of a jury undermines the dignity of the courtroom and the ability of the judicial system to maintain public confidence in its ability and authority to provide justice. (Id. at pp. 626, 630.)
Given the constitutional rights at stake, the majority held that "where a court, without adequate justification, orders the defendant to wear shackles that will be seen by the jury, the defendant need not demonstrate actual prejudice to make out a due process violation. The State must prove 'beyond a reasonable doubt that the shackling error complained of did not contribute to the verdict obtained.' " (Deck, supra, 544 U.S. at p. 635, quoting Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18.)
California has long followed similar principles. In People v. Harrington (1871) 42 Cal. 165 (Harrington), the California Supreme Court stated that that "any order or action of the Court which, without evident necessity, imposes physical burdens, pains and restraints upon a prisoner during the progress of his trial, inevitably tends to confuse and embarrass his mental faculties, and thereby materially to abridge and prejudicially affect his constitutional rights of defense; and especially would such physical bonds and restraints in like manner materially impair and prejudicially affect his statutory privilege of becoming a competent witness and testifying in his own behalf." (Id. at p. 168; accord, People v. Ross (1967) 67 Cal.2d 64, 72 absent danger of escape, defendant entitled to appear without shackles; People v. Burnett (1967) 251 Cal. App. 2d 651, 655 unnecessary show of restraint of an accused in the presence of the jurors is prejudicial.)
The California Legislature has also limited the amount of restraint that may be used against those charged with offenses. Section 688 provides, "No person charged with a public offense may be subjected, before conviction, to any more restraint than is necessary for his detention to answer the charge." (See former 13, Stats. 1872.)
In People v. Duran (1976) 16 Cal.3d 282, the court reaffirmed "the rule that a defendant cannot be subjected to physical restraints of any kind in the courtroom while in the jury's presence, unless there is a showing of a manifest need for such restraints. " (Id. at pp. 290-291.)
The court opined that "possible prejudice in the minds of the jurors, the affront to human dignity, the disrespect for the entire judicial system which is incident to unjustifiable use of physical restraints, as well as the effect such restraints have upon a defendant's decision to take the stand, all support our continued adherence to the Harrington rule." (Id. at p. 290; accord, People v. Hill (1998) 17 Cal.4th 800, 841.)
In People v. Cox (1991) 53 Cal.3d 618 280 Cal. Rptr. 692, 809 P.2d 351, the court later explained that manifest need exists "only upon a showing of unruliness, an announced intention to escape, or 'evidence of any nonconforming conduct or planned nonconforming conduct, which disrupts or would disrupt the judicial process if unrestrained ... .'" (Id. at p. 651.)
Thus, the mere fact that the defendant is a prison inmate, standing alone, does not justify the use of physical restraints. "The trial judge must make the decision to use physical restraints on a case-by-case basis. The court cannot adopt a general policy of imposing such restraints upon prison inmates charged with new offenses unless there is a showing of necessity on the record." (Duran, supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 293.)
In Duran, the court further ruled that because the imposition of restraints is a "judicial function," the trial court has a sua sponte duty "to initiate whatever procedures it deems sufficient in order that it might make a due process determination of record that restraints are necessary." (Duran, supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 293, fn. 12.)
If the defendant is to be restrained, the court must make a record concerning the justification, and if the restraints are visible to the jury, the trial court must instruct the jury sua sponte that the restraints should have no bearing on the determination of the defendant's guilt. (Id. at pp. 291-292; see People v. Mar (2002) 28 Cal.4th 1201 reaffirming principles outlined in Duran.)
The Duran court also reaffirmed the rule that a defendant waives appellate claims concerning shackles unless he or she objected below. (Duran, supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 289, citing People v. Chacon (1968) 69 Cal.2d 765, 778; accord, People v. Alvarez (1996) 14 Cal.4th 155, 192, fn. 7; People v. Stankewitz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 72 ; People v. Walker (1988) 47 Cal.3d 605, 629.)
In Duran, a prison inmate was stabbed several times, and the defendant immediately fled the scene. He was caught, and police found a bloody scissors nearby, although the blood could not be analyzed.
The victim testified that the defendant was not his assailant, and no one identified the defendant as the assailant. However, one inmate said he saw the defendant make arm motions toward the victim immediately before the victim collapsed. The defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a dirk or dagger.
At trial, the court summarily denied his motion to appear in civilian clothes without shackles but agreed to free one of his hands so that he could take notes during trial. The defendant testified in his shackles. He testified that he thought he would be adversely affected if he became involved in an investigation of the stabbing and so he fled, hoping to avoid any connection to the incident and investigation. (Duran, supra, 16 Cal.3d at pp. 287-288.)
The California Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defendant's motion because the court provided no reasons on the record for shackling him. There is no showing that defendant threatened to escape or behaved violently before coming to court or while in court. The fact that defendant was a state prison inmate who had been convicted of robbery and was charged with a violent crime did not, without more, justify the use of physical restraints. As our discussion heretofore indicates, the trial judge must make the decision to use physical restraints on a case-by-case basis.
The court cannot adopt a general policy of imposing such restraints upon prison inmates charged with new offenses unless there is a showing of necessity on the record. The court's summary denial of the motion to release defendant from his shackles was not based upon such a showing of record and implies a general policy of shackling all inmate defendants accused of violent crimes." (Duran, supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 293; see People v. Anderson (2001) 25 Cal.4th 543, 595 "a shackling decision must be based on facts, not mere rumor or innuendo ...".)