Chess v. Smith

In Chess v. Smith, 617 P.2d 341, 344 (Utah 1980), the Court held that a defendant is entitled to appear at trial in civilian clothing unless the defendant affirmatively waives that right. The Court stated, "The prejudicial effect that flows from a defendant's appearing before a jury in identifiable prison garb is not measurable, and it is so potentially prejudicial as to create a substantial risk of fundamental unfairness in a criminal trial." Id. The Court further held that "a trial judge should on his own initiative inquire of a defendant whether he wishes to waive his right not to appear in prison clothes so that the record affirmatively shows an intelligent and conscious waiver by the defendant if the defendant chooses to stand trial in prison clothes." Id. at 345.