CINCINNATI (CN) – The government did not deprive a defendant of his due-process rights by forcing him to wear an electronic stun belt during trial, the 6th Circuit ruled.
Though the lower court abused its discretion in failing to hold a hearing to determine whether Shawn Miller needed the stun belt, the court ruled, the error does not require reversal of his convictions and sentences.
Miller was sentenced to 10 years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering after he sold investors non-existent and fraudulent debt portfolios.
He was ordered to wear the stun belt after his attorney, concerned with his own safety, unsuccessfully requested to be removed as Miller’s counsel. “The defendant and I just had a meeting, which deteriorated to a very violent nature,” the lawyer told the judge. “I was hoping while he sat in jail he would come to his senses but obviously he has not. He is hostile to me. I cannot under the ethical situation even sit at the same trial table with him.”
Miller was forced to wear a stun belt that would deliver 50,000 volts of electricity if he tampered with the system, or tried to assault anyone or escape.
Miller failed to establish that he was prejudiced by the belt, which was not visible to jurors, the court concluded.