Judge Ordered Electric Shock For Texas Man, Conviction Overturned
A pedophile in Texas had his conviction overturned due to the judge's brutal treatment by electric shock during his trial. 54 year-old Terry Lee Morris was convicted of having his girlfriend's 15 year-old daughter perform sex acts on him back in 2014. On the first day of the guilt or innocence stage of the trial, the judge says the man refused to enter a plea and that's when he ordered the bailiff to activate a stun belt around the man's legs. The stun belt sent 50,000 volts through Morris, and the stun belt was activated three times that day. After that day, Morris said he was too afraid to enter the court room again. The trial continued without his presence and Morris was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years in prison. The judge in question, Judge George Gallagher, says he was justified in his use of the stun belt due to Morris being unruly. Morris appealed and the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso was shocked enough to overturn his conviction. The court believes that the brutality of Morris' treatment violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial because he wasn't able to attend his own trial due to his fear of returning to the courtroom.
Judge Yvonne T. Rodriguez said in her decision,
"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. A stun belt is a device meant to ensure physical safety; it is not an 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 electrocuting a defendant until he provides the judge with behavior he likes. Because the trial transcript clearly shows that the trial judge, during a heated exchanged with the defendant outside the presence of the jury, ordered his bailiff to electrocute the defendant three times with a stun belt—not for legitimate security purposes, but solely as a show of the court's power as the defendant asked the court to stop “torturing” him—we harbor grave doubts as to whether Morris' trial comported with basic constitutional mandates. As such, we have no choice but to overturn Morris' conviction and remand for a new trial."
In Tarrant County, defendants can have stun belts strapped to their legs or midsection if the judges see fit. Judges must deem that the defendants may become violent, or may try to escape. Court transcripts show that Morris wasn't violent or attempting to escape, but filed to comply with verbal commands. It is unknown if there will be consequences for the judge from the case.