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.