Electrocuting Judge

A few (maybe as many as 4) years ago, there was a news story about a defendant in a court case who wouldn’t be quiet, despite several admonishments by the judge. The defendant was potentially violent so he was wearing one of the devices that delivers an electric shock when activated. After telling the defendant several times to stop talking, the judge activated the device and shocked the defendant.

Since it wasn’t local to me, I didn’t hear any follow up.

Was anything ever done to the judge?

It happened in a court in Long Beach, California, in 1998. Los Angeles Times story. Superior Court Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani was presiding. She subsequently removed herself from the case, the defendant Ronnie Hawkins got a new trial (not because of the stun belt, though), and was convicted again of theft. Because it was his third felony under California’s “three strikes” law, he received a sentence of 25 years to life.

In 1999, a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction preventing the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department from using the stun belts on courtroom defendants. Hawkins sued Los Angeles County over the stun belt incident, and agreed to settle his lawsuit for $275,000. Hawkins died in prison of AIDS in 2002. Comparet-Cassani is still one of the presiding judges at the Superior Court in Long Beach.

The county has revised its policy and now allows the stun belt to be used on defendants only when there is a credible risk of danger to others or of escape.

Thanks for the info.