A shocker in Maryland

I was shocked to read the story of Delvon King, 25 year old pro-se defendant in Maryland, who was facing gun charges and about to represent himself at trial. Here’s what happened:

King began jury selection in front of Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier, the chief administrative judge in Charles County Circuit Court. Apparently Judge Bragunier has a very short fuse and she quickly got irritated with the defendant’s citing to legal precedent1, so she interrupted jury selection2 and sent it over to retired Judge Robert C. Nalley to complete jury selection.

Judge Nalley apparently also wasn’t having any of King’s attempts to defend himself, so right before jury selection began, in the middle of a sentence, Judge Nalley ordered a judicial marshal to administer an electric shock to King.

Yes. An electric shock.

On Nalley’s order, the Charles County Sheriff’s Department officer pushed a button that administered an electric shock to Delvon L. King, 25, of Waldorf. King, who is not a lawyer, represented himself against gun charges.

So what did King do to deserve it? But surely King must’ve been disruptive? He maybe threatened someone? He lunged at someone? He must’ve been warned? Subdued? Removed from the court at least a few times?

That would make sense, but – shocker – that didn’t happen:

In the moments before Nalley ordered King to be shocked, the defendant did not threaten Nalley or anyone else, according to the court transcript. King did not make any threatening physical moves toward Nalley or anyone else, and did not attempt to flee, according to the defendant and his parents, Alexander and Doris King who were in the courtroom and witnessed the attack.

The transcript of the exchange between King and Nalley is five pages long; it appears that Nalley ordered King shocked within two or three minutes of encountering him. Early in their exchange, King asked Nalley for his “Superior Court GA 15 Certified Delegation of Authority Order.”  King said he was trying to determine whether Nalley, in light of his tire deflating conviction, was allowed to serve as a judge. “I didn’t think he was in good standing to oversee my case,” King said.

But don’t take their word for it. Look at the transcript:

“Stop,” Nalley said, according to the transcript.

“… principles of common right and common reason are …” King said.

“Mr. Sheriff … ” Nalley said

“… null and void,” King continued.

“…do it,” Nalley ordered. “Use it.”


Apparently Nalley ordered the sheriff to do it a few times because the sheriff actually complied. Ever been accidentally electrocuted? Now imagine it was intentional:

“He (Delvon) screamed and he kept screaming,” Alexander King said. “When the officer hit the button, it was like an 18-wheeler hit Delvon. He hit the ground that quick. He kept screaming until the pain subsided.”

So then King was taken to the hospital, he was allowed to recuperate and the judge was dismissed.

Haha, just kidding. King was returned to the courtroom almost immediately, whereupon he was ordered to finish jury selection. Then he was sent back to Judge Bragunier’s courtroom to actually conduct the trial, was found guilty and then held pending sentencing, all in the span of two days.

Judge Nalley declined to comment when sent a series of questions by the Baltimore Post-Examiner, possibly because in 2009 he pled to slashing the tires of a car that was parked in his spot. Psychopath:

On Aug. 10, 2009, he deflated the tire of a 2004 Toyota Corolla that was parked in a restricted area near the La Plata courthouse. The deflation was witnessed by two Charles County Sheriff’s deputies, one of whom recorded Nalley’s act on a cellphone camera.

At the time, Nalley was the chief administrative judge for Circuit Court in Charles County. Nalley, whose annual salary was $140,352 at the time, resigned from that post three days after he deflated the tire, after news reports detailed his act.

The car belonged to Jean Washington, a member of the night courthouse cleaning crew. Washington said she did park in the restricted zone because she did not want to walk alone at night to a parking lot.

So where’s the video? Of course there’s video. But you don’t get to see it. Guess who made that decision? Why, Judge Bragunier of course.

In a brief Aug. 21 letter to the Baltimore Post-Examiner, Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier wrote that making the video public would be “contrary to the public interest and further because inspection of the video-only recording compromises the security protocols to protect the courthouse, its staff, and the public.” Bragunier is the chief administrative judge for the Circuit Court in Charles County.

The video “exists solely as part of the security protocol for the courthouse,” Bragunier wrote. In her letter, Bragunier did not explain how viewing a video would compromise courthouse security.

Of course not. Do you think the chief administrative judge, who got irritated with a defendant and passed him onto someone else, who is a documented psychopath, who then administered an electric shock to the defendant, and who was then returned to her to rush through a trial and conviction would want proof of that out for the world to see?

Officer safety, you morons, trumps everything: trumps King’s right not to be electrocuted and the public’s right to know.

Can they do this? They can, obviously, in the sense that they just did. But I’ve never heard of a security measure in courts where they put shock collars on defendants. That’s just the most horrifying method of ensuring compliance and subjugating those that appear before them, seeking justice. Usually, defendants are handcuffed in court for security reasons and that makes sense, but anything more than that requires a showing that the defendant is a threat.

But electrocution? That’s a shocker.

  1. King believes he’s a sovereign citizen. They’re a bit…kooky.
  2. Almost unheard of; never happens.

10 thoughts on “A shocker in Maryland

  1. Sujal Shah

    How does a “retired” judge preside over jury selection? Shouldn’t it be an actively employed judge? Sounds like the defendant was asking the same question?

    1. Gideon Post author

      They can sit by designation in many states. They fill in for vacancies or when others take days off. We have them here in CT too.

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  3. Miranda

    In the county courthouse in Beaumont, TX, shock belts have been used on defendants, but the judge, as well as the bailiff, has a button controlling the device.

  4. Barb Bernhardt

    A device commonly used in cheap science fiction thrillers, whereby the fascist aliens control the subjugated human population. Disgusting. Will anything be done? Prolly not.

  5. kathryn

    Shock belts are common in some parts of Louisiana for capital trials. Defendants can’t be handcuffed since the jury can see that. The alternative is a leg restraint worn under clothes, but it’s really awkward to walk and stand in, and the pants have to be baggy.

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  7. Mark McCandlish

    Sovereign Citizens are as much a legitimate class of people as any other group protected under the Civil Rights Act or the Constitution, be they Black, Native Americans, Illegal aliens, Communists, etc. The Founding Fathers for example, sought this status for themselves and their posterity as part of the independence they would eventually win for all of us- (yes- sovereign citizenship it is a “political status” protected under the First Amendment. See: ex Parte Ng Fung Sing U.S. Supreme Court case.) This electrocution is nothing short of an unprovoked assault under color of authority. And while the judge may not be “personally liable”, the County that hired him is. “… Hello? American Civil Liberties Union? This is Devon King. I have a new case for you…”

  8. andrews

    We have these senior judges in Florida, too. Occasionally one is given a criminal trial to handle, but in that case it is because of work load and the senior judge handles the whole criminal trial.

    On the other hand, you get these senior judges in the special foreclosure divisions. They are there because the banks lobbied the legislature for them, to move foreclosures faster. Many of these judges recognize that the $750 per day is there because of the banks, and rule accordingly.

    The good news is that usually our appeals courts do not review foreclosure cases very carefully. “Per Curium, Affirmed” is latin for “We have a pressing appointment at the golf course”.

    The bad news is that, for many people, this will be their main exposure to the justice system. The sausage-factory foreclosures will leave them with diminished respect for our justice, and it would be hard to argue that they are wrong to see things that way.

  9. Brady Smith

    This sadistic scofflaw should never again be allowed to don the robes of a judge. And he should be prosecuted for what he did. THe Maryland legislature should also act to pierce whatever vail of immunity he hides behind to allow a civil lawsuit against him PERSONALLY for damages. This is an outrage. Did this guy come from the CIA?


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