Maryland judge orders courtroom deputy to shock disruptive ‘sovereign citizen’ defendant
A Maryland judge ordered a sheriff’s deputy to shock a defendant who would not stop citing “sovereign citizen” doctrine during a court hearing.
According to the court transcript and reported last week by the Baltimore Post Examiner, Judge Robert C. Nalley asked 25-year-old Delvon King, who was representing himself, to stop talking.
King, who was outfitted with an electronic shocking device on his leg, continued to challenge the validity of the case against him citing “common right and common reason,” and the judge ordered a Charles County sheriff’s deputy to administer the shock.
“Do it,” the judge ordered, according to the transcript. “Use it.”
The transcript does not indicate that King made any threatening movements toward the judge or anyone else in the courtroom or attempt to flee.
King immediately crumpled to the ground when the shock was delivered.
“He screamed and he kept screaming,” said his father, Alexander King. “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.”
The incident took place July 23, right before jury selection, although no prospective jurors were in the courtroom.
A medical worker examined King at the courthouse, and then jury selection began.
“I thought they’d give me time to recuperate,” said King, who was acting as his own attorney.
Nalley oversaw only the jury selection, and then the case moved back before Circuit Court Judge Amy Bragunier, who had requested another judge to help seat a jury because her docket was full on the day it was scheduled to begin.
King was eventually convicted on each of three weapons charges against him.
He was arrested after police stopped a car he was riding in and found a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his coat pocket.
King maintains he is a sovereign citizen and had attempted to argue the court had no jurisdiction over him when the deputy shocked him.
Sovereign citizens believe they can exempt themselves from U.S. laws by filing a variety of bogus legal documents, and they frequently represent themselves and interrupt court proceedings with bizarre proclamations when their actions result in prosecution.
The loosely organized movement originated in far-right white supremacists circles but now claims a growing number of black adherents.
Judges must explain on the record why an electronic shock device will be used on a defendant, just as they must explain why defendants will be placed in handcuffs or leg shackles in court.
Such devices or restraints can cause jurors to form negative opinions of defendants.
David Rocah, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said judges are expected to exercise restraint in ordering a shock to be delivered.
“Its use is limited to extreme situations,” Rocah said. “It’s not proper to use it just because a judge is annoyed with a defendant. It’s not a torture device to make defendants more compliant. It’s not a device for summary punishment.”
Nalley was suspended without pay for five days in 2010, after he deflated the tires of a cleaning woman’s car after she parked in the space where he usually did outside the LaPlata courthouse.