A convicted pedophile is getting a new trial because the judge overseeing his case had the defendant shocked multiple times in court.
In 2014, Terry Lee Morris faced trial for soliciting a sex act from his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter. For unknown reasons, Morris had requested that presiding judge George Gallagher recuse himself from the case.
When asked by the judge to enter his plea, Morris instead asked for the opportunity to defend himself, and announced that he had a lawsuit pending against both the judge and his defense attorney.
After warning the defendant to cooperate or face the stun belt as a consequence, the judge ordered a bailiff to shock Morris three times.
Morris’s defense attorney at the time, Bill Ray, did not object to the punishment, saying his client was behaving “like a loaded cannon ready to go off.”
While speaking to the jury in his defense of Morris during the trial, Ray argued “You may not like Terry Morris. I don’t like him. Kind of rude. Smells bad, you know. Is he guilty of this? He might be. The question is not to answer any of those things.”
The jury found Morris guilty after hearing the evidence against him, including nude pictures of the girl he was accused of molesting.
On February 28 an appeals court determined that there was “no choice” but to overturn the man’s 2014 conviction because of Judge Gallagher’s actions. In the appeals court decision, Judge Yvonne Rodriguez stated that “while the trial court’s frustration with an obstreperous defendant is understandable, the judge’s disproportionate response is not. A stun belt is a device meant to ensure physical safety; it is not a collar meant to punish a defendant until he obeys a judge’s whim.”
Judge Rodriguez continued: “Never before have we seen behavior like this, nor do we hope to ever see such behavior again. 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.”
In a similar scenario, Delvon King sued a judge for using a stun gun on him during his own defense in a Maryland court in 2014. The judge was fined $5,000 and ordered to take anger management classes.
One of King’s lawyers, Steve Silverman, told The Huffington Post at the time: “A judge can only take this type of measure if the litigant is a danger to those in the court room. Judges are not allowed to arbitrarily electrocute litigants. That is why the judge was convicted of a federal civil rights crime.”