Appeals court: Courts cannot have blanket shackling policy

AP News
Posted: May 31, 2017 2:09 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court says courts cannot routinely shackle defendants during proceedings and must instead decide on a case-by-case basis whether the restraints are necessary.

A divided 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a California-based federal court's practice of shackling almost all defendants during pre-trial hearings was unconstitutional.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California implemented the policy in 2013 after the U.S. Marshals Service highlighted security concerns. The court is based in San Diego.

In a 6-5 ruling, the 9th Circuit said courts cannot delegate the decision to require shackles to the U.S. Marshals Service.

An email to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, which defended the shackling policy in court, was not immediately returned.