DECK v. MISSOURI
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI
No. 04-5293.Argued March 1, 2005--Decided May 23, 2005
Petitioner Deck was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, but the Missouri Supreme Court set aside the sentence. At his new sentencing proceeding, he was shackled with leg irons, handcuffs, and a belly chain. The trial court overruled counsel's objections to the shackles, and Deck was again sentenced to death. Affirming, the State Supreme Court rejected Deck's claim that his shackling violated, inter alia, the Federal Constitution.
Held: The Constitution forbids the use of visible shackles during a capital trial's penalty phase, as it does during the guilt phase, unless that use is "justified by an essential state interest"--such as courtroom security--specific to the defendant on trial. Holbrook v. Flynn, 475 U. S. 560, 568-569. Pp. 3-10.