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Disruption in the the Courtroom - The Troublesome Defendant

NCJ Number
Military Law Review Volume: 75 Dated: (1977) Pages: 35-69
S F Lancaster
Date Published
35 pages
This article discusses the military trial judge's handling of disruptive defendants in the courtroom, outlines the options available to the judge, and presents practical suggestions to aid the judge.
As soon as the judge determines that the defendant is being disruptive he should stop the proceedings, excuse the court members, and hold an article 39 (a) hearing. At the hearing he should inform the accused and the counsel that the accused's behavior is disruptive and that if it continues the accused will be removed from the courtroom. The judge should give the defense attorney an opportunity to be heard on the issue, as well as to ensure that all the relevant evidence concerning the defendant's conduct is included in the trial record. The court should be recessed to give the defendant an opportunity to consult with counsel and consider the judge's warning. A defendant who refuses to cooperate should be removed from the courtroom. After removing the defendant, the judge must keep the defendant informed as to the status of the trial and provide the opportunity to consult with the counsel. A room located near the courtroom and equipped with closed circuit television and a telephone can serve as a place of detention for disruptive defendants where they can follow the process of the trial and communicate with the counsel during the trial without creating a disturbance. Over 185 footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)


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