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In Re Staley





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County, the Hon. John David Zwanzig, Judge, presiding.


In April of 1975, the circuit court of La Salle County found the defendant, Derwin Staley, a 15-year-old youth, to be a minor in need of supervision and placed him in the La Salle County Detention Home. On May 2, 1975, a resident of the home attacked and severely beat a teacher. The defendant, by blocking their path, prevented a counselor and the superintendent of the home from coming to the teacher's assistance. The defendant was immediately taken before the La Salle County juvenile court in handcuffs. His attorney moved that the handcuffs be removed, stating that two deputies were present and that one could be placed in front of each door to prevent escape. A guard from the home, who accompanied the defendant, stated that it was up to the judge to decide whether the handcuffs should be removed. The assistant State's Attorney recommended to the court that the defendant remain handcuffed. The trial court followed the prosecutor's recommendation, stating that it did not want what was happening at the home to occur in the courtroom.

A petition alleging the defendant's delinquency was filed and on May 12, 1975, an adjudicatory hearing was held and the defendant was found delinquent. He had been brought into court for this hearing wearing handcuffs and his attorney again moved for their removal. The court denied the motion, saying there was "poor security" in the courtroom and that it might order the handcuffs removed at the afternoon session if the defendant behaved properly. All of the evidence was presented at the morning session; at the afternoon session the trial court held that the defendant was delinquent and then proceeded to commit him to the Department of Corrections for diagnostic evaluation. The defendant did not make a request for removal of the handcuffs at the afternoon session. The appellate court reversed and remanded the cause for another adjudicatory hearing, holding that the trial court erred when it required the defendant to appear at the adjudicatory hearing wearing handcuffs. (40 Ill. App.3d 528.) We granted the State leave to appeal under Rule 315. 58 Ill.2d R. 315.

In People v. Boose (1977), 66 Ill.2d 261, 265-66, we said:

"It has been held that the shackling [which includes handcuffing, see ABA Standards, Trial by Jury sec. 4.1(c), Commentary 94 (1968)] of the accused should be avoided if possible because: (1) it tends to prejudice the jury against the accused; (2) it restricts his ability to assist his counsel during trial; and (3) it offends the dignity of the judicial process. (Kennedy v. Cardwell (6th Cir. 1973), 487 F.2d 101, 105-06; State v. Tolley (1976), 290 N.C. 349, 367, 226 S.E.2d 353, 367.) Most of the courts that have considered the question have held that an accused should never be placed in restraints in the presence of the jury `unless there is a showing of a manifest need for such restraints.' (People v. Duran (1976), 16 Cal.3d 282, 290-91, 545 P.2d 1322, 1327, 127 Cal.Rptr. 618, 623; see Illinois v. Allen (1970), 397 U.S. 337, 25 L.Ed.2d 353, 90 S.Ct. 1057; United States v. Theriault (5th Cir. 1976), 531 F.2d 281; Kennedy; Tolley.) The ABA Standards relating to jury trials provide:

`Defendants * * * should not be subjected to physical restraint while in court unless the trial judge has found such restraint reasonably necessary to maintain order.' ABA Standards, Trial by Jury sec. 4.1(c) (1968)."

The State points out that there was no trial by jury here. The possibility of prejudicing a jury, however, is not the only reason why courts should not allow the shackling of an accused in the absence of a strong necessity for doing so. The presumption of innocence is central to our administration of criminal justice. In the absence of exceptional circumstances, an accused has the right to stand trial "with the appearance, dignity, and self-respect of a free and innocent man." (Eaddy v. People (1946), 115 Colo. 488, 492, 174 P.2d 717, 719.) It jeopardizes the presumption's value and protection and demeans our justice for an accused without clear cause to be required to stand in a courtroom in manacles or other restraints while he is being judged. Also, as we observed in Boose, shackling restricts the ability of an accused to cooperate with his attorney and to assist in his defense. (66 Ill.2d 261, 265.) The reasons for forbidding shackling are not limited to trials by jury. Section 4.1(c) of the ABA Standards relating to trial by jury, which is cited above, while it does concern the conduct of jury trials, does not limit its disapproval of physical restraint of a defendant to such trials. The commentary to section 4.1 provides:

"* * * [T]he matter of custody and restraint of defendants and witnesses at trial is not of concern solely in those cases in which there is a jury. Obviously, a defendant should be able to consult effectively with counsel in all cases. Prison attire and unnecessary physical restraint are offensive even when there is no jury. * * *

(c) * * * Because the rule rests only in part upon the possibility of jury prejudice, it should not be limited to jury trials." ABA Standards, Trial by Jury sec. 4.1, Commentary 92-94 (1968).

We do not, of course, overlook that a trial judge has the responsibility of insuring a proper trial and that there may be circumstances which will justify the restraint of an accused. It was stated in Boose (66 Ill.2d 261, 266): "A defendant may be shackled when there is reason to believe that he may try to escape or that he may pose a threat to the safety of people in the courtroom or if it is necessary to maintain order during the trial. [Citations.]" In the absence of such a showing, however, which must be established clearly on the record (People v. Boose, 66 Ill.2d 261, 267), an accused cannot be tried in shackles whether there is to be a bench trial or a trial by jury.

The State points to the trial court's concern over the "poor security" in the courtroom and argues that this was a sufficient justification for requiring the defendant to remain handcuffed during the adjudicatory hearing. The argument does not impress. There is nothing in the record to show that the defendant posed a threat of escape. While the record is not absolutely clear as to the status of the security in the courtroom, we consider that if guards or deputies were not present, they should have been summoned in order to resolve the security problem. Physical restraints should not be permitted unless there is a clear necessity for them.

For the reasons stated, the judgment of the appellate court is affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.


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