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Name: People v. Billie
Case #: B265958
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/04/2017
Summary

Trial court did not err in requiring pro se defendant with history of violence to remain shackled to his chair during trial. Following a jury trial during which he represented himself, defendant was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of personal infliction of great bodily injury. On appeal, defendant argued the court erred in requiring him to wear physical restraints during trial. Held: Affirmed. A criminal defendant may be subjected to physical restraints in the jury’s presence upon a showing of a manifest need for such restraints. This requirement is satisfied by evidence that the defendant has threatened jail deputies, possessed weapons in custody, threatened or assaulted other inmates, and/or engaged in violent outbursts in court. Here, defendant had a well-documented history of violence, including a prior conviction for stabbing an acquaintance and numerous in-custody disciplinary violations for attacks on other inmates and possession of razor blades. In light of defendant’s history, the trial court imposed the least intrusive means of restraint to accomplish its goal of maintaining courtroom safety. Defendant had one hand free to take notes and was dressed in civilian clothes throughout trial; his handcuff and leg restraints were covered with tape; and his table was fitted with a cloth drape that hid everything beneath the tabletop. Although defendant could not stand or move around the courtroom, the prosecutor volunteered to remain seated during trial, the court used runners to deliver exhibits between the witness stand and counsel’s table, and sidebars were conducted outside the jury’s presence. The trial court also instructed the jury not to consider defendant’s physical restraints for any purpose. Under these circumstances, defendant failed to show a manifest abuse of discretion.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B265958.PDF