7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: Richard Shirley, Jr. v. Lizzie Tegels
Case No.: 18-1713
Officials: Easterbrook, Hamilton, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Postconviction Relief-Shackling Bias
After a jury trial Richard Shirley was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide. On appeal from the denial of his habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Shirley argues the state trial court erred when it permitted him to be shackled during his testimony, which he says violated his constitutional right to present a complete defense. Because no Supreme Court case clearly establishes that the decision to shackle a criminal defendant while testifying violates that right, federal postconviction relief here is precluded. Given how recognizable the sound of clinking shackles can be, concealing restraints from view does not necessarily prevent jurors from knowing that a defendant is shackled. This knowledge (and not through which sense it was acquired) was what the Supreme Court found undermined one of the “three fundamental legal principles” implicated by courtroom shackling.