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In Re Staley

OPINION FILED JULY 21, 1976.

IN RE DERWIN STALEY, A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

DERWIN STALEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. JOHN DAVID ZWANZIG, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE ALLOY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal derives from a proceeding in which a petition was filed against respondent Derwin Staley under section 4-1 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 37, par. 704-1). It was alleged in the petition that defendant Staley was a delinquent in that he had committed the offense of aggravated battery. Staley was 15 years old and was adjudicated a delinquent after a hearing and placed in custody of the juvenile division of the Department of Corrections.

On appeal in this court, defendant Staley contends that the trial court committed prejudicial and reversible error in requiring Staley to remain in handcuffs throughout the adjudicatory hearing.

The delinquency charges arose out of an incident on May 2, 1975, while Staley was in the custody of the La Salle County Detention Home pursuant to a petition alleging him to be a minor in need of supervision. On May 2 another youth, Mat Sellers, got into a scuffle with a teacher. Staley came to the aid of Sellers by blocking the path of the counselor and the superintendent who were trying to pull Sellers away from the teacher. The teacher was hospitalized as a result of injuries he received in the scuffle with Sellers.

Staley was then taken immediately to the juvenile court in handcuffs. The assistant public defender appointed to represent him requested that the trial court order the shackles removed. There was no objection from the Detention Home guard accompanying Staley, but the prosecutor did object, and the court refused to order the handcuffs taken off Staley. The court stated he didn't want what was allegedly going on at the Home to occur in the courtroom.

The court proceeded to set May 9 as the date for the adjudicatory hearing. On May 9, the hearing was again set over until May 12 when the sheriff apparently refused to bring Staley from the juvenile home in Kankakee where he was being kept. Despite the inability of respondent's counsel to be present on May 12, the hearing was held on May 12 with another assistant public defender representing Staley.

The State attempted to introduce some evidence that Staley actually struck the teacher during the scuffle at the Detention Home, but the court eventually disallowed that evidence. The court nevertheless found Staley delinquent, and determined that the evidence showed he aided and abetted Sellers in the beating.

At the time the hearing began, defense counsel requested that the handcuffs again placed on Staley be removed. The trial court again repeated his comment made on May 2 and noted that the courtroom was not constructed for security purposes. The court indicated that the denial was conditional and said he might reconsider in the afternoon if Staley behaved himself. By noon the evidence was all in and the afternoon session consisted solely of formally closing the proofs and closing arguments. No further request was made by respondent and no further ruling by the court as to the shackles was made.

• 1, 2 We recently considered the general rule that a defendant in a criminal case should not be required to appear shackled in the courtroom, except when it is necessary and when there are no other less extreme measures available. (People v. Boose (3d Dist. 1975), 33 Ill. App.3d 250, 337 N.E.2d 338.) We believe the same rule is applicable in delinquency proceedings in juvenile court, since there is a virtual identity of such proceedings with the criminal process. (In re Gault (1967), 387 U.S. 1, 18 L.Ed.2d 527, 87 S.Ct. 1428.) In the Boose case we noted that "[t]he most significant justification for the rule (against shackling defendants) is the prejudicial effect on the jury's feelings about the defendant". (33 Ill. App.3d 250, 253.) While the instant case did not involve a jury (this important factor is not a consideration in the cause before us) there are other reasons for the rule. Binding a defendant can impair his ability to communicate with counsel and thus effectively assist in his defense. It is destructive of the dignity and decorum of the court and the judicial process. (See People v. Boose, 33 Ill. App.3d 250, 253.) The impairment of defendant's ability to assist in his own defense could stem from a physical handicap imposed by the shackles and from the accompanying mental distress and confusion that could result. It is difficult to establish by proof the prejudice to a defendant, but we must recognize that it could exist and we believe a good reason must be shown by the State to justify shackling a defendant during his trial, before it was determined whether he is innocent or guilty.

Normally, reasons for binding a defendant are to prevent escape, to protect others in the court, and to curb possible disruption. The record should show facts supporting the court's determination that the shackling was necessary for one of these or for some other reason which might justify the action.

• 3 Here we find nothing which suggests the likelihood that Staley would try to escape or attack others in the court, or that he would disrupt the proceedings. The only basis upon which the court relied, was the nature of the charge. Standing by or even preventing others from participating in the conflict would not be a sufficient basis, in absence of some specific application of such activity to the situation in the courtroom.

• 4 Lack of security in the courtroom could be a factor. We find nothing suggesting the probability of an attempted escape or harm to others. There was no showing in the record that less drastic measures such as the presence of a bailiff or an armed guard, would not be feasible. See People v. Boose, 33 Ill. App.3d 250, 254.

• 5 We agree with the State that a defendant's past criminal record, his reputation, and his character, are also factors which the trial court may consider in evaluating the need for shackles. The State asserted that Staley had run away from his home several times before being placed in a detention home, or, at least on one occasion. We do not find that this circumstance (which was not even argued in the trial court in support of the retention of the shackles) is enough.

• 6 The State points out that respondent did not renew his request for removal of the shackles in the afternoon despite the court's indication that it would reconsider at that time. This argument overlooks the fact that the hearing was over by noon and that the harm done at that point could never be undone. The failure of respondent to ...


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