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Handling the Problem Criminal Defendant in the Courtroom: The Use of Physical Restraints and Expulsion in the Modern Era

NCJ Number
San Diego Justice Journal Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1994) Pages: 507-529
D E Westman
Date Published
23 pages
This article discusses the issue of physically restraining allegedly dangerous defendants in a criminal trial, particularly given the stringent standard set by California's Supreme Court which must be met before a defendant may be restrained by even nonvisible physical restraints.
The decision by a judge to physically restrain a defendant during trial is often overturned at the appellate level as an abuse of discretion by the trial judge. The trial court must meet a heavy burden before placing physical restraints on a defendant in order to ensure every defendant receives a fair trial; however, this burden has also jeopardized the public safety and security. This article reviews the evolution of the requirements California trial judges face in deciding whether or not to impose physical restraints, addresses circumstances under which a defendant may be removed from the courtroom as a result of his threatening action without violating his Sixth Amendment rights, and describes modern and less intrusive physical restraints now being used in trial courtrooms. 89 notes


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