By Gretchen Schuldt
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is accepting comments until Jan. 3 on a petition to prohibit routine shackling of juveniles in court.
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 15.
Currently, many counties in the state routinely shackle children during their court appearances. Read WJI's previous petition coverage here. Watch the WJI Virtual Salon with Eileen Hirsch and Diane Rondini, the two lawyers who filed the petition with five circuit judges, here.
The judges who joined in the request were Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Laura Crivello, Eau Claire County Circuit Judge Michael A. Schumacher, La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez, Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell, and Marathon County Circuit Judge Suzanne C. O'Neill.
The petition pending before the court would require that restraints or shackles be removed from children before they are brought into a courtroom unless a judge makes all of the findings listed below.
1. The use of restraints is necessary due to any of the following factors:
a. Restraints are necessary to prevent physical harm to the child or another person.
b. The child has a history of disruptive courtroom behavior that has placed others in potentially harmful situations, or the child presents a substantial risk of inflicting physical harm on himself or herself or others as evidenced by recent behavior.
c. There is a founded belief that the child presents a substantial risk of flight from the
2. There are no less restrictive alternatives to restraints that will prevent flight or physical harm
to the child or another person, including the presence of court personnel, law enforcement
officers, or bailiffs.
The petition also would require a judge to allow the child’s lawyer to be heard before the court
orders the use of restraints.
The full petition and a supporting memo is posted on the State Supreme Court website here.
Send any comments on the petition to Clerk of Supreme Court, Attention: Deputy Clerk-Rules, P.O. Box 1688, Madison, WI 53701-1688.
If possible, email a Microsoft Word version of your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. See comment guidelines at the court's website here.
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