A stun belt can't be used as punishment for not answering questions, appeals court rules

A defendant in Texas had his conviction thrown out on appeal after a judge used a stun belt — normally outfitted in case there's a possibility of violence — as punishment for refusing to answer questions.

It was, the appeals court said, a violation of his constitutional rights.

The action stunned the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso, too. It has now thrown out Morris’s conviction on the grounds that the shocks ordered by district judge George Gallagher, and Morris’s subsequent removal from the courtroom, violated his constitutional rights. Since he was too scared to come back to the courtroom, the court held that the shocks effectively barred him from attending his own trial, in violation of the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a defendant’s right to be present and confront witnesses during a trial.

Read more in the Washington Post

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