State v. Guzek

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 11-27-2015
  • Case #: S058677)
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Walters, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, J.; Baldwin, J.; Durham, S.J.; & Riggs, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, section 11, of the Oregon Constitution and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, a defendant may not be entitled to a full evidentiary hearing with live testimony to determine use of appropriate restraints during a penalty-phase trial, where the record reflects no disputed facts and the trial court properly considered, on the record, the risk of danger, disruption or escape and the relative prejudice of types of restraints.

Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder. Since the conviction in 1988, Defendant’s sentences of death have been remanded for new penalty-phase trials several times for a variety of reasons. This appeal concerned Defendant’s assignments of error concerning the trial court’s decision that he must wear a stun belt during the penalty-phase trial and jury instruction about how the jury may consider his allocution. Defendant moved to be free of all restraints during all court appearances, but the court denied the motion without a hearing or presentation of evidence because Defendant had already been convicted of two counts of aggravated murder. At a pretrial hearing, the court considered Defendant’s motion to be free of all restraints, accepting comments from both Defendant’s counsel and the State. The court concluded Defendant would wear a stun belt that would protect trial participants and remain out of sight from the jury but also allow Defendant to keep his hands free to confer with counsel. After two mandamus petitions and motions to the trial court, the matter on review for this appeal is whether the court violated Defendant’s state and federal constitutional rights under Article I, section 11, of Oregon Constitution and under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by failing to provide Defendant with a sufficient evidentiary hearing, insufficiently documenting its reasoning and factual findings, and requiring Defendant wear a stun belt at trial. The Court held that Defendant’s state and federal constitutional rights were not violated because (1) the parties’ arguments did not rest on disputed facts that necessitated live testimony at the hearing; (2) the court provided sufficient factual findings and reasoning on the record, reasonably inferring a risk of danger, disruption or escape that resulted in Defendant’s convictions, conditions of the courtroom and concerns of trial participants; (3) the record reflected the trial court weighed the relative prejudice of each type of restraint as required under State v. Washington, 355 Or 612; and the trial court did not decide Defendant had no right against unnecessary restraint, but determined nonviable restraints were appropriate, resulting in no issues under Deck, 544 U.S. at 622-34. The Court also held the court’s jury instruction regarding the jury’s ability to weigh Defendant’s allocution in filling out verdict forms was proper. Affirmed.

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