Published on: Friday, November 5, 2021

Wisconsin man charged with murder was visibly restrained in the jury’s presence. Man convicted and sentenced to life. State courts: no problem. Federal district court: sustaining the shackling order amounted to an unreasonable application of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Deck v. Missouri, 544 U.S. 622, 125 S. Ct. 2007 (2005). Seventh Circuit: Agreed. The visible shackles reinforced the very argu-ment that the prosecutor was making as to why the defendant must have been the person who killed the deceased. But in any event, you need a really good reason to visibly shackle a criminal defendant in front of a jury, particularly if the prosecutor is giving closing argument and going on about how dangerous and unpredictable the defendant is. So try this guy again or let him go.

The case is Wilber v. Hepp, Nos. 20-2614 & 20-2703 (7th Cir. Oct. 29, 2021).