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Name: Dyas v. Poole
Case #: 01-56324
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/28/2002
Subsequent History: Opinion amended 1/21/03 without change in judgment

After the state Court of Appeal had held her shackling at trial to be nonprejudicial constitutional error, appellant filed a federal habeas petition, and the People conceded error, but again argued lack of prejudice. The Ninth Circuit here disagreed, pointing out that defendant’s leg shackles were seen by at least one juror in the courtroom during trial, that she was charged with the violent crime of murder (although she was not the actual perpetrator), and that the evidence against her was not overwhelming. The court rejected arguments that the jurors’ voir dire answers that they would not be prejudiced against defendant if she were shackled during transport, because she was also shackled in the courtroom itself, and that the defense was not prevented from arguing the shackling issue because it had asked the voir dire questions about the effect of shackling on the minds of prospective jurors, thus informing them that defendant would be shackled during transport. The court concluded the in-courtroom shackling alone was prejudicial. Shackling during trial carries a high risk of prejudice because it indicates that the court believes there is a need to keep the defendant separate. Also, the case was close.