State v. Pendergrass, 14662

Citation726 S.W.2d 831
Decision Date10 March 1987
Docket NumberNo. 14662,14662
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Donnie PENDERGRASS, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)

Page 831

726 S.W.2d 831
STATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Donnie PENDERGRASS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 14662.
Missouri Court of Appeals,
Southern District,
Division Two.
March 10, 1987.
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to
Supreme Court Denied March 31, 1987.

Page 832

No appearance for plaintiff-respondent.

Susan L. Hogan, Columbia, for defendant-appellant.

PREWITT, Presiding Judge.

Following jury trial defendant was convicted of assault in the third degree and sentenced to eight months' confinement in the Newton County Jail. He appeals, presenting two points for our consideration.

Defendant contends in his first point that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing two of his witnesses to be shackled by leg chains and to wear prison clothing while testifying because this "impermissibly prejudiced the jury against the testimony of those witnesses by indicating to the jury that the witnesses were in custody during the trial and may have been dangerous individuals or escape risks requiring custody."

The conduct of the trial, the safety of all persons, and the prevention of escape are matters within the discretion of the trial judge whose ruling will not be overturned absent a showing of abuse of that discretion. State v. Zeitvogel, 655 S.W.2d 678, 688 (Mo.App.1983). The defendant bears the burden of showing how he was prejudiced by the court's actions in this regard. Id.

Some "good reason", based on misconduct or exceptional circumstances must exist and should be expressed by the trial court before a defendant's witnesses are required to appear before a jury in chains or shackles. State v. Jones, 556 S.W.2d 736, 737-738 (Mo.App.1977). The standards are the same when considering the propriety of an accused or his witnesses appearing in court restrained. Id.

The trial judge is vested with considerable, but not unlimited, discretion in determining the propriety of physical restraints. See also State v. Borman, 529 S.W.2d 192, 194 (Mo.App.1975). Relevant factors to consider in determining the propriety of such restraints include the presence or absence of disruptive conduct prior to or during the trial, the presence or absence of threats of such misconduct, the trial atmosphere, the likelihood of an attempt to escape, the age and physical attributes of the accused, the nature of the offense on trial, the size and mood of the audience and the adequacy of alternative remedies. Id. See also State v. Methfessel, 718 S.W.2d 534, 537 (Mo.App.1986).

Before the witnesses testified, defendant's counsel informed the court that defendant had two witnesses who were held in custody by the Department of Corrections. He said they were present outside the courtroom "restrained with leg irons and handcuffs." He asked that they be brought in without the restraints. A deputy sheriff stated to the court that the Department

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of Corrections recommended that the handcuffs be removed but that "leg chains" be kept on them while they were in the courtroom. The trial court expressed concern about the possibility of an escape and stated that it would allow the handcuffs to be removed but would "leave the leg irons on."

Defendant's counsel also objected to the witnesses appearing in "prison garb" and asked "that they be provided with civilian clothes to wear." The trial court denied that request, stating it would probably "come out" where they were "presently staying" and "we don't have the facilities" to outfit them in civilian clothing.

Little of the relevant considerations is in the record. The witnesses were persons who had been with defendant when the assault allegedly occurred and apparently had been convicted for their participation in the incident. Although the ages of the witnesses are not in the record, in view of the evidence of the assault, they would appear to be reasonably young and physically healthy men. One had been convicted of "sales of imitation drug", assault and stealing a car. The other had been convicted of felony stealing and second-degree assault. One was defendant's cousin.

The makeup of the courtroom and how many persons would reasonably be needed to prevent an escape from its exits if the leg irons were not used is not in the record. Giving the trial judge his considerable discretion in such matters, we find no abuse of that discretion in keeping the leg chains on the witnesses. There is no showing that other clothing was readily available and we do not think that making it available was the responsibility of the trial court. This point is denied.

Defendant's second point contends that the trial court erred in submitting to the jury an instruction following MAI-CR2d 2.20 "because that instruction violated appellant's rights to due process in that the instruction defines proof beyond a reasonable doubt as proof that leaves jurors 'firmly convinced,' thereby diminishing the meaning of proof beyond a reasonable doubt." That instruction is set out below. 1

MAI-CR2d 2.20 was adopted following the enactment of § 546.070(4), RSMo Cum.Supp.1984, which required that "reasonable doubt" be defined for a jury in criminal trials. 2

Although asking that this court reverse the conviction because of that instruction defendant acknowledges decisions indicating that the court of appeals may be "powerless" to declare an MAI instruction erroneous even if the court thought it was. See State v. Hawkins, 703 S.W.2d 67, 70-71 (Mo.App.1985); State v. Toney, 680 S.W.2d 268, 278 (Mo.App.1984); State v. Davis, 675 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Mo.App.1984); State v. Bruce, 671 S.W.2d 821, 822 (Mo.App.1984); State v. Stevenson, 660 S.W.2d 236, 237 (Mo.App.1983); State v. Burton, 721 S.W.2d 58, 63-64 (Mo.App.1986). But see State v. Singer, 719 S.W.2d 818, 823 (Mo.App.1986) (Dixon, J., dissenting).

There is an indication in MAI-CR2d that this court may review the propriety of MAI-CR2d instructions. The Supplemental Notes on Use to MAI-CR2d 17.00 p.

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17-3 state that "These Notes on Use are applicable...

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21 cases
  • State v. Allah Jamaal W.
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • December 1, 2000
    ...Cir.1996) (prison attire); State v. Joseph, 613 So.2d 1131 (La.Ct.App. 5th Cir.1993) (prison attire and shackles); State v. Pendergrass, 726 S.W.2d 831 (Mo.Ct.App.1987) (prison attire and shackles); State v. Jones, 556 S.W.2d 736 (Mo.Ct.App.1977) (shackles); White v. State, 105 Nev. 121, 77......
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    ...of the trial court, and its rulings will not be overturned absent a showing of an abuse of that discretion. State v. Pendergrass , 726 S.W.2d 831, 832 (Mo. App. S.D. 1987). Defendant argues that "the trial court here denied [Defendant] the ability to make a record about potential misconduct......
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