Of Docks and Shackles: A Comparative Examination of Courtroom Control and the Rights of the Accused

9 Wake Forest J.L. & Pol’y 311

43 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2019

Date Written: May 19, 2019


This article focuses on two approaches to restraining unruly defendants in criminal courtrooms: shackles, which are used primarily in the United States; and the dock, which is used in many European countries, including the United Kingdom. In Part I, the article discusses the historical and legal significance of a defendant’s right to be present during criminal proceedings, as well as the rationales for different restraint methods used to effectuate those rights for unruly defendants. The UK and the United States are apt comparative counterparts due to the interconnected history of their respective criminal justice systems. Next, in Part II, various legal challenges to the restraint methods in each country are examined. Although the legal challenges have a common core, different historical underpinnings and distinct legal foundations have resulted in varied outcomes. Finally, in Part III, the current status of each restraint method is described and used as a backdrop to offer recommendations for alternative processes that presume a right to appear unfettered and, barring that, mandate the use of restraint methods that pose the least threat to undermining the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.

Keywords: Criminal Procedure, Sixth Amendment, Comparative Law, Shackle, Docks

Suggested Citation

Mack, Raneta Lawson, Of Docks and Shackles: A Comparative Examination of Courtroom Control and the Rights of the Accused (May 19, 2019). 9 Wake Forest J.L. & Pol’y 311, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3456966

Raneta Lawson Mack (Contact Author)

Creighton University School of Law ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States
402-280-5582 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.creighton.edu/faculty-directory-profile/617/raneta-mack

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