469 F.2d 854 (9th Cir. 1972), 72-2124, Bentley v. Crist

Docket Nº:72-2124.
Citation:469 F.2d 854
Party Name:Donald A. BENTLEY, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant, v. Roger W. CRIST, Warden of Montana State Prison, and the State of Montana, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:November 27, 1972
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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469 F.2d 854 (9th Cir. 1972)

Donald A. BENTLEY, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Roger W. CRIST, Warden of Montana State Prison, and the State of Montana, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 72-2124.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

November 27, 1972

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David J. Patterson, Montana Defender Project, University of Montana School of Law, Missoula, Mont., for petitioner-appellant.

Robert L. Woodahl, Atty. Gen., J. C. Weingartner, Deputy Atty. Gen., Helena, Mont., for respondents-appellees.

Before DUNIWAY, ELY and WRIGHT, Circuit Judges.

EUGENE A. WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:

Bentley was tried and convicted in a Montana state court on three counts of assault 1 and the conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Montana. State v. Bentley, 155 Mont. 383, 472 P.2d 864 (1970). He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the District of Montana.

The petition alleged that Bentley was required to appear in the courtroom wearing the jail uniform of the Missoula County Jail. It alleged further that the uniform consisted of distinctive gray coveralls imprinted with the words "Missoula County Jail" or "Missoula County Sheriff" across the front, that petitioner's court appointed counsel objected to having him wear such clothing before a jury, and that his objection was overruled.

Counsel's objection did not state either that Bentley was compelled to wear the uniform, or that he had no civilian clothing available or that he was unable to obtain civilian clothing.

The district court was of the opinion that the facts alleged in the petition, even if true, did not show that Bentley was denied his constitutional right to the presumption of innocence. 2 This is

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contrary to the weight of authority in state and federal courts. 3

We conclude that the ends of justice would be better served if we adopt the majority view that compelling the accused to wear prison clothing 4 may deny to him the presumption of innocence. Therefore we reverse the order of the district court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

In considering the petition on remand the district court must determine in the first instance whether the petitioner was in fact compelled to wear prison clothing at his state court trial. In making this determination the court should consider that an accused who is forced to stand trial...

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