United States judge uses shocks to punish defendant

United States judge uses shocks to punish defendant”

Judge George Gallagher of Tarrant County ordered a bailiff to use a stun belt, legally used to deliver thousands of volts of electric shock on violent or escaping defendants in Texas, on a sex offender who failed to answer questions properly, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Judge George Gallagher used a stun belt on a defendant in 2014 in order to get Terry Lee Morris, an accused pedophile, to answer his questions.

Morris was sentenced to 60 years in prison after his conviction for soliciting the sexual performance of a child.

Morris was granted a new trial, but it's still unclear when it's scheduled to begin.

Morris was removed from the courtroom and in his appeal stated he did not return to the courtroom over fear for his safety.

The Texas 8th Court of Appeals ruled that the shocks had violated Morris's constitutional right to be present at his trial and to confront witnesses testifying against him.

Shock belts are placed on defendants' legs.

"Never before have we seen any behaviour like this, nor do we hope to ever see such behaviour again", wrote appeals court Justice Yvonne Rodriguez.

Gallagher: Are you going to follow the rules?

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The stun gun shocks apparently started after Morris refused to enter a plea at Gallagher's request.

Morris: "Sir, I've asked you to recuse yourself".

Morris:"I have a lawsuit pending against you".

The court said the judge ordered the shocking of Terry Lee Morris "not for legitimate security purposes, but exclusively as a show of the court's power". Gallagher gave him a stern warning after Morris continued to talk, stating that the "outbursts" would not be tolerated. The opinion said 50,000 volts can have cognitive impairment effects on a defendant, but it did not mention what Morris' condition was after being shocked.

After more back-and-forth, Gallagher asks, "Are you going to behave?" Judge Gallagher claimed Morris became agitated during the hearing, so much so that he could have easily reached for a courtroom video monitor and throw it at others in the courtroom.

Mr Morris's attorney, Bill Ray, told the Texas Lawyer that he did not object to the use of the stun belt because his client was acting "like a loaded cannon ready to go off", and that he did not really believe that he was being shocked.

"It was based on the totality of his continuing escalation and his movements that the court ordered the shock belt be initiated", Gallagher said at time.

"We must speak out against it, lest we allow practices like these to affront the very dignity of the proceedings we seek to protect and lead our courts to drift from justice into barbarism".

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