APPEAL from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon.
JOHN S. MASSIEON, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Elson Boose, was charged with the murder of a guard at the Illinois Industrial School for Boys, located in Sheridan, Illinois, while incarcerated there on a juvenile offense. At the time of this petition, defendant was 15 years of age. On motion of the State's Attorney, and after a hearing, the Juvenile Court waived its jurisdiction and the case was transferred to the Adult Calendar on May 28, 1971. (Although the report of proceedings at that hearing cannot be located, an agreed statement of facts has been prepared by defendant and added to the record by stipulation.)
An indictment charging murder was returned against Boose and, pursuant to a motion by his attorney, a hearing to determine competency to stand trial was held. On November 24, 1971, the jury returned a verdict finding defendant competent.
Defendant entered a plea of guilty to murder, and on February 22, 1972, he was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than 20 years nor more than 40 years.
On this appeal the defendant contends that he was deprived of a trial before a fair and impartial jury by the trial judge's order requiring him to be shackled throughout the competency hearing. Furthermore, the defendant urges that, even though the conviction ultimately resulted from a plea of guilty, the prejudice to which he was subjected during the competency hearing deprived him of due process and requires a reversal of the conviction.
Before the jury was impaneled at the competency hearing, defense counsel called the court's attention to the fact that Boose was shackled with a restraining belt around his waist and handcuffs through the shackles on the belt, and also that his shoes were without laces. Thereupon, defense counsel moved that Boose be unshackled throughout all proceedings before the jury, arguing that the jury would be irrevocably prejudiced against the defendant and would be led astray in their deliberations on the question of competency. He also pointed out that the belt severely limited Boose's movements and called the court's attention to the presence of special guards from the Illinois Industrial School for Boys at Sheridan, whose presence, he argued, would forestall any potential danger.
No evidence or argument was offered by the State in opposition to the motion to unshackle the defendant. In response to the motion, the court stated:
"No, I believe due to the nature of the charge against the defendant, true enough it is just a charge, and that is understood, the jury knows that he is charged with a criminal offense, due to the nature of the charges against the defendant, I believe it would be better to have the shackles remain."
Before the competency hearing began, the judge stated that he would direct that Boose not be moved in or out before the jury in order to lessen the potential bias from the jurors viewing the restraints. He also stated that Boose's jacket covered the restraining belt to some extent, and that if he were already seated when the jury came in, with his hands at a low level, the shackles would not become overly apparent.
Defense counsel renewed his objection to the shackling in the post-trial motion. During argument on this motion, defense counsel pointed out that the precautionary measures ordered by the judge did not prevent the jury from becoming aware of the shackles, since, rather than remaining seated to hide his shackles and thereby appear disrespectful, the defendant rose each time the judge entered or left the courtroom. He again called the court's attention to the presence of guards from Sheridan who were armed and specially trained. He also noted that there was nothing in defendant's conduct during previous court appearances which would justify shackling him.
In objecting to the motion, the State's Attorney argued that the shackling was justified because defendant was charged in juvenile proceedings with at least one, and possibly two homicides. In response, defense counsel pointed out that in one of the previous juvenile charges, defendant was found to have acted in self-defense; and that in the second juvenile case, the defendant was found delinquent on the charge of involuntary manslaughter because he was present when someone else shot a victim.
• 1, 2 Various reasons have been assigned as to why a defendant should not be shackled during his criminal trial. The most significant justification for the rule is the prejudicial effect on the jury's feelings about the defendant. (Kennedy v. Cardwell, 487 F.2d 101 (6th Cir. 1973).) A second reason advanced in support of the rule is that the use of shackles may operate to abridge the defendant's ability to defend himself, in particular his ability to communicate, and thereby reduce the normal advantages of being present at the trial. The Supreme Court recognized this problem in Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337, 344, 25 L.Ed.2d 353, 359, 90 S.Ct. 1057, where it said:
"Moreover, one of the defendant's primary advantages of being present at the trial, his ability to communicate with his counsel, is greatly reduced when the defendant is in a condition of total physical restraint."
The final reason supporting the rule against shackling the defendant in the courtroom is that it detracts from the dignity and decorum of the judicial process. In this regard the Supreme Court stated in Illinois v. Allen that "the use of this technique [shackling and gagging] is itself something of an affront to the very dignity and decorum of judicial proceedings ...