Opinion Date: 06/26/2012
Issues: Right to self-representation; U.S. Const., Am. VI; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 13; MCL 763.1; Martinez v. Court of Appeals of CA; Procedures for proceeding pro se; People v. Russell; Waiver of attorney; MCR 6.005(D)(1); People v. Williams; Opportunity to consult with attorney; MCR 6.005(D)(2); Denial of right to self-representation; McKaskle v. Wiggins; Effect of the trial court's requirement that the defendant wear shackles during trial on his exercise of his constitutional right to self-representation; Standards for pro se defendant; Baird v. Baird; Defense attorney's discretion as to trial strategy; People v. Pickens; People v. Rockey; Due process right to a fair trial; Presumption of innocence; Deck v. Missouri; Shackling of a defendant; People v. Dixon; People v. Dunn; "Prejudice"; People v. Payne
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: People v. Arthur
e-Journal Number: 52035
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Talbot and Owens; Dissent – O’Connell
The court held that the trial court's requirement that defendant wear shackles during trial nullified its grant of defendant's request for self-representation and denied him his right to a fair trial. Defendant was convicted and sentenced on a variety of crimes. On appeal, he argued that he was denied his constitutional right to self-representation because the trial court required that he wear shackles on his legs during trial. The court agreed with defendant's argument that "the trial court's refusal to allow him to appear in court without shackles rendered his right to represent himself illusory" and its "insistence without justification on such restraints operated as a de facto denial of his right to self-representation because of its prejudicial effect." The court found that the condition imposed on defendant's self-representation prohibited him from using any trial strategy or tactic that would require him to walk in the presence of the jury, which restricted him from approaching witnesses with evidence, moving between the podium and counsel table, or engaging in a bench conference. Further, the court noted, defendant "would have been forced to remain seated at counsel table throughout trial, even as he questioned witnesses, impermissibly putting him on unequal footing with the prosecution." As a result, the court held that defendant was left with no choice but to relinquish his constitutional right to represent himself. The court also agreed with defendant's argument that the trial court's requirement that he wear shackles violated his due process right to a fair trial. The court found that the trial court failed to articulate any "extraordinary" circumstance compelling the use of shackles during trial. The trial court simply cited a "security issue" and did not elaborate. The court also concluded that he demonstrated prejudice, since the record suggested that the jury saw his shackles, and held that the trial court's decision was reversible error. Reversed and remanded.
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