Defendant’s mouth bound with duct tape during hearing

Via Skelly at Arbitrary and Capricious, Judge Peter D. McDermott in Idaho ordered a mentally ill defendant gagged with duct tape to stop his outbursts during a hearing. Nicklas Frasure was in court for a probation violation hearing, but his public defender, Kent Reynolds, was requesting a mental competency evaluation (his clients response: “I’m totally fine,” Frasure said. “I have a sense of humor. I’m not bad looking. I can walk on my hands.”).
Frasure had spent time in a mental hospital, and there was testimony during the hearing as to his mental illness. Rather than order the defendant removed from the courtroom, which the judge had every right to do, he instead ordered that the defendant be gagged to prevent his outbursts during the proceeding. Ultimately, the judge did order that Frasure be committed for evaluation and treatment (in department of corrections).

“I want to see you get better,” McDermott told Frasure.
“You want to arm wrestle?” was Frasure’s reply before being led from the courtroom by bailiffs.

The SCOID blog points out that this judge has recently announced retirement:

Does this have anything to do with the Judge’s recently announced retirement? Maybe he’s been wanting to do this for 20 years and saw this as his last chance. Now, I’ve occasionally wanted to tape my client’s mouth shut too, but for different reasons and I’ve never actually done it! Does the Idaho Judicial Council read the Idaho State Journal?

I think that judges can sometimes become jaded, presiding over criminal trials, pleas, and hearings day after day, and at times can forget that these are human beings standing before them. To order that a mentally ill defendant be gagged in the courtroom is shameful and disgusting, and regardless of this judge’s announced retirement some action should be taken in response to this. Maybe at the time it was amusing, but there is nothing amusing about it when it is seen in print from 2500 miles away. Just my opinion.

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