Supreme Court to consider whether courts can shackle all defendants

WASHINGTON, Dec 9, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – The US Supreme Court announced Friday it will examine whether the routine shackling of defendants during court hearings is unconstitutional.

The high court will consider the question after a California-based federal appeals court in May ruled that restraints must be decided on a case-by-case basis, and must only be used where there is a compelling security risk.

It is common in US courtrooms to see defendants dressed in prison uniforms and bound in chains by their hands and wrists.

The case was brought over a decision by a lower federal court in San Diego, where US Marshals had started blanket shackling of defendants over security concerns.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, issued a six- five decision on the issue.

“A presumptively innocent defendant has the right to be treated with respect and dignity in a public courtroom, not like a bear on a chain,” wrote Judge Alex Kozinski in the majority opinion.

“We must treat people with respect and dignity even though they are suspected of a crime.”

The Supreme Court will examine the question in the coming months.