Supreme Court Ruling Affects Local Courthouse Security

By: Jon Hardison
By: Jon Hardison

A new Supreme Court ruling says defendants cannot be kept in handcuffs and leg chains during any part of the trial because that could lead the jury to believe the defendant has already been proven guilty.

But court security officials are on "high alert" following the murder of a judge and court staff in an Atlanta courthouse last month.

"I'd be happy if they were shackled all the time in the courtroom. but I'm also realistic and I understand that the judge controls his courtroom and also rulings and the law, and I have to comply with that," says Ernie Steff, Chief of Security for the Warren Co. Justice Center.

"You don't show a defendant in handcuffs and shackles. Even though we now realize that there is a need to have defendants shackled and restrained in the courtroom. We just have to do a better job in not letting the jury see that happen," said Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson.

The court's ruling still allows judges to determine if an inmate is too dangerous to be left unrestrained.


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