ILNews

Court orders defendants to wear leg restraints at trial

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A federal judge in Terre Haute has granted the government’s request that two defendants wear modified leg irons at an upcoming jury trial due to their violent criminal histories – both outside of prison and while incarcerated. The men face charges stemming from the murder of a fellow inmate.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the request Thursday in United States of America v. William Bell and Lenard Dixon, 2:13-CR-0021, finding that William Bell and Lenard Dixon present “extreme need” that justifies being restrained at trial for courtroom security.

Dixon’s attorney argued that the men have an inherent right to be free from shackles at trial, consistent with the presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. But Magnus-Stinson rejected the argument, citing that it is not the shackling itself but the prejudice that could result if the jury were allowed to continuously view the defendants in a restrained manner.

Both Bell and Dixon, inmates in the Federal Correction Complex in Terre Haute, have lengthy criminal histories that show a propensity of violence toward others. Bell has a history of being generally disruptive and resisting restraints and has broken facility property while incarcerated. Dixon has been disciplined on numerous occasions for possessing dangerous homemade weapons while incarcerated as well as threatening bodily harm.

Bell is being tried for allegedly killing fellow inmate Brian Pendelton while incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex. He faces life imprisonment if convicted. Dixon is alleged to have been an accessory after the fact to the murder of Pendleton and faces up to 15 years in prison if guilty.

The court order requires that the men wear modified leg restraints fitted with tape and soft material to limit any audible noise. Their hands will not be restrained during trial. All tables in the courtroom will be skirted as they were at the hearing on the motions regarding restraints and the defendants will be transported as necessary outside of the presence of the jury.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • There are other methods
    While I respect Her Honor and her action, there are other methods which are much more effective for restraining potentially violent innocent inmates. A long time ago there was a belt made which goes around the inmate under his clothing and it is controlled by remote control. The Judge holds the remote or the bailiff can hold it on the Judges order. The belt provides a small shock to the defendant, enough to stop them from what they are doing. It also provides escalation warning beeps that it will go off if the action is not changed. It does not permanently hurt the defendant, rather allows time for them to be properly restrained. I've only seen it activated 2 times. One time was when the defendant charged the bench, and one time when the defendants attorney was punched. Both times order was restored to the court very quickly.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

ADVERTISEMENT