FORT WORTH, Texas -- An appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man whom a judge, impatient with the defendant's disruptions, ordered to be jolted several times with 50,000 volts from a shock belt. The 8th Texas Court of Appeals in El Paso ordered the new trial for Terry Lee Morris.
He was convicted in 2014 of soliciting a sexual performance from an underage girl. The court ruled that state District Judge George Gallagher of Tarrant County violated Morris' civil rights when he ordered a bailiff, on three occasions, to shock Morris as punishment for not giving proper answers to Gallagher's questions.
Shock belts are placed on defendants' legs. The appeals court said they are to be used only if a defendant becomes violent, not to enforce decorum.
"While the trial court's frustration with an obstreperous defendant is understandable, the judge's disproportionate response is not. We do not believe that trial judges can use stun belts to enforce decorum," Justice Yvonne T. Rodriguez wrote in the appeal court's ruling, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Gallagher declined to comment to the Star-Telegram.