Division I: No Restraints at Sentencing (Absent Individualized Reasons)
Sentencing is carried out by juries. Its extremely prejudicial for someone to be seen in handcuffs and leg restraints unless it is absolutely necessary (outbursts and the like). Well, you can guess why we’re here, that’s exactly what was done. Now, Walker had been convicted, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was restraints in sentencing, which is determined by a judge.
Now, Division I determined there is a common law right to appear in court generally free of restraints, which we adopted from the common law of England. They then moved on to the usual restraint findings, which require findings on the record that necessitate the shackling. Here, the record did not support the findings, so it was in error.
Now, do I think this was the proper result? No. A judge, unlike a jury, is presumed to be able to disentangle prejudices such as those from being in restraints. I think the Washington Supreme Court may abandon the parity between trial and sentencing, and instead come up with some lesser burden. But then again, I’m not a Supreme Court Justice.
While Issaquah Legal Services does not yet have a criminal attorney, we plan on having one in the near future. Please feel free to call us for recommendations on a Criminal Law Attorney.