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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Man Subjected to Courtroom Shock Sues Judge

A former judge who was forced off the bench in Maryland for having sheriffs activate “shock cuffs” on a pro se defendant now faces a civil complaint over the bizarre incident.

BALTIMORE (CN) – A former judge who was forced off the bench in Maryland for ordering the activation of “shock cuffs” on a pro se defendant now faces a civil complaint over the bizarre incident.

As recounted in his guilty plea last year to a federal civil rights charge, Robert Nalley had 26 years under his belt on the Charles County Circuit Court when in July 2014 he was presiding over the criminal trial of Delvon King on gun charges.

King, who was proceeding in that case pro se and wearing electroshock “stun cuffs,” purportedly angered Nalley by refusing to answer the judge’s questions and speaking over the judge during jury selection.

The courtroom’s closed-circuit cameras captured what happened next: Nally ordered a sheriff to activate the cuff, and Nalley fell to the ground and screamed in pain as an electric charge coursed through his body for about 5 seconds.

“Stop, stop,” Nalley told King. “Mr. Sheriff, do it. Use it.”

Footage of the incident is now YouTube.

King’s attorney Steven Silverman explained in an interview Tuesday why they are now suing Nalley for punitive damages.

“The bottom line is Mr. King is not satisfied with the disposition of the criminal prosecution of Judge Nalley and feels the necessity to pursue the civil prosecution of the case civilly,” said Silverman, an attorney with the firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White.

Nally had retired from the bench a year before the incident but continued to preside over cases on a part-time basis. The Maryland Court of Appeals banned him from the bench after the shock incident, and his criminal sentence of probation included a $5,000 fine.

King filed his civil complaint on March 6 with a federal judge in Baltimore, saying he “presented no danger to Defendant Nalley or others present in the courtroom, made no aggressive movements or threatening statements and posed no threat to himself, defendant Nalley, or anyone in the courtroom.”

“The electrocution, the sending of thousands of volts of electricity through Mr. King’s body, caused Mr. King to writhe on the ground in uncontrollable spasms and painful screams for several minutes in excruciating pain,” the complaint states.

Video of the incident supports this account, something King’s attorney says compounds his client’s damages.

“There is forever a record of what happened to Mr. King on the internet,” Silverman said in an interview. “The video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of time, by millions of people, and in it he is seen laying in fetal position on the floor, screaming loudly. And this is extremely humiliating. And he will be forever identified with that degrading situation.”

In a pause between King’s screams after being shocked, Nalley called for a break. “We will wait until he calms down and then we’ll be right back,” the judge said of King. “Five minutes.”

King says he “still suffers from panic attacks and severe anxiety as a result of the electric shock.”

Years before he presided over King’s case, Nalley faced a five-day suspension after he let the air out of the tire of a court employee in 2009.

King, who was convicted on the 2014 gun charge, wants punitive damages for one count of excessive force.

Categories / Civil Rights, Courts

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