STATE v. MICHAEL BRAWLEY, SC 19441

Judicial District of Waterbury

 

†††† Criminal;Whether Appellate Court Properly Affirmed Decision Requiring Defendant to Remain Shackled During Trial; Whether Defendant or State Bears Burden of Showing that Jury was Aware of Shackles.† The defendant was charged with several offenses, including burglary, assault and kidnapping, in connection with a home invasion.† At the start of trial, defense counsel moved that the defendantís shackles be removed.† The trial court denied the motion, stating that the ďstandard procedureĒ is to leave the shackles on during trial.† The defendant was convicted and he appealed, claiming that his constitutional right to a fair trial was violated by the courtís decision requiring that he remain shackled.† The Appellate Court (153 Conn. App. 903) affirmed the defendantís convictions in a per curiam decision without opinion.† The Supreme Court has granted certification on the issue of whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial courtís decision requiring the defendant to remain shackled.† The defendant, in support of his contention that he was denied a fair trial, relies on Deck v. Missouri, 544 U.S. 622 (2005) and United States v. Banegas, 600 F.3d 342 (5th Cir. 2010).† In Deck, the United States Supreme Court held that, because the shackling of a defendant in the presence of a jury is ďinherently prejudicial,Ē the federal constitution forbids the use of visible shackles unless that use is justified by an essential state interest, such as courtroom security or escape prevention, specific to the defendant on trial. †It further held that where a court, without adequate justification, orders a defendant to wear shackles that will be seen by the jury, the defendant need not demonstrate actual prejudice to make out a due process violation; instead, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shackling did not contribute to the verdict.† Subsequently, in Banegas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that where there is no adequate justification for shackling the defendant but there is a question as to whether the restraints were visible to the jury, the government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendantís shackles could not be seen by the jury.† To hold otherwise, the court explained, would significantly alter the burden of proof articulated in Deck.† Here, the defendant asserts that the trial courtís decision to shackle him was not justified by an essential state interest and that the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shackling did not contribute to the verdict.† He further contends that, under Banegas, the burden is on the state to prove that the shackles were not visible to the jury.† In response, the state, while acknowledging that the record fails to disclose an adequate justification for shackling the defendant, contends that his claim should nevertheless be rejected pursuant to State v. Tweedy, 219 Conn. 489 (1991).† In that case, the Supreme Court held that any impropriety in the trial courtís decision to shackle the defendant was harmless because there was no evidence in the record that the jury saw or otherwise knew of the defendant's restraints.† The state claims that it is the defendantís burden to provide a record demonstrating that the jury saw or was otherwise aware of his shackles and that the defendant did not meet that burden here.†