An appeals court has ordered a new trial for a convicted sex offender after Texas District Judge George Gallagher, ordered a bailiff to shock him three times with a 50,0000-volt belt for being uncooperative in court.
In El Paso, Texas the Eighth Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Tommy Lee Morris,54, who was convicted of soliciting a sex act from a 15-year-old girl and sentenced to 60 years in jail in 2014.
In the state of Texas, a stun belt can be used on a defendant but only if he is a threat to anyone’s physical safety.
The Texas Eighth Court of Appeals ruled that Morris’s constitutional rights were violated by Gallagher, “ While the trial court’s frustration with an obstreperous defendant is understandable, the judge’s disproportionate response is not. We do not believe that trial judges can use stun belts to enforce decorum,” said I her ruling, according to the Star-Telegram.
Adding, “A stun belt is a device meant to ensure physical safety; it is not an operant conditioning collar meant to punish a defendant until he obeys a judge’s whim. This Court cannot sit idly by and say nothing when a judge turns a court of law into a Skinner Box, electrocuting a defendant until he provides the judge with behavior he likes.”
According to the court reports the incident ensued after the defendant refused to answer judge Gallagher’s question of what plea was going to be entered.
Morris who was previously convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1991 will now get a new trial in regards to the 2014 case.