CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Supreme Court Oral Argument Today in Capital Case

Supreme_court_13Today the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Deck v. Missouri, 04-5293.  At issue is whether the defendant was unfairly prejudiced by being handcuffed and shackled with leg irons and a belly chain during the sentencing phase of his capital trial.  Although the Supreme Court has held that "no person shall be tried while shackled and gagged except as a last resort," its decision is grounded in the fact that during trial the defendant is presumed to be innocent. The restraints, according to the court, compromise that presumption of innocence.  The Court has yet to consider whether the same heightened standard applies to the sentencing phase where the defendant has already been convicted of the crime.  More details and briefs here.  [Mark Godsey]

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