United States District Court, D. Nevada
J. DAWSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant's Objections (#21) to the
Magistrate Judge's Order to Shackle Defendant. Though the
time for doing so has passed, the Government has not filed a
December 15, 2017, Defendant appeared before Magistrate Judge
Ferenbach in leg restraints. Prior to this initial
appearance, the U.S. Marshals Office (“Marshals”)
gave both counsel and the Magistrate Judge a prisoner
restraint form which detailed why the Marshals felt leg
restraints were appropriate for this particular Defendant. In
this form, the Marshals recommended leg shackling based on
Defendant's prior arrests for assault, two armed
robberies, one of which was committed while Defendant was on
parole. Based on this information the Magistrate Judge had
Defendant brought into the courtroom in leg restraints. Prior
to beginning Defendant's initial appearance, the
Magistrate Judge held a hearing pursuant to U.S. v.
Sanchez-Gomez, 850 F.3d 649 (9th Cir. 2017), to allow
argument as to whether Defendant should remain in leg
restraints for the remainder of the appearance.
this hearing, the Government stated that in addition to the
Marshals' request, it too was requesting Defendant be
placed, at a minimum, in leg restraints. Defendant had no
factual objection to the Government's explanation, but
instead stated that the Government's arguments were
“not good arguments” under U.S. v.
Sanchez-Gomez. Defendant argued there are three
scenarios in which Sanchez-Gomez envisioned
shackling, and that none of those scenarios were present
here. Ultimately, the Magistrate Judge highlighted his
responsibility to look at all factors, finding “. . .
compelling reasons for the safety of others and to prevent
escape that Defendant Seawright remain in leg
restraints.” As such, Defendant remained in leg
restraints during the hearing.
December 29, 2017, Defendant filed the present objections to
the Magistrate Judge's ruling.
non-dispositive order entered by a magistrate must be
deferred to unless it is ‘clearly erroneous or contrary
to law.'” Grimes v. County of San
Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991); 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(A). The clearly erroneous standard applies
to factual findings, and the contrary to law standard applies
to legal determinations. Grimes, 951 F.2d at 240. A
magistrate judge's order is “contrary to law when
it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law,
or rules of procedure.” U.S. v. Desage, 2017
WL 77415, at *3 (D. Nev. Jan. 9, 2017).
636(b)(1)(A) states a judge may reconsider any pretrial
matter upon a showing that the magistrate judge's order
is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Magistrate judges
are given broad discretion and should not be overruled absent
a showing of clear abuse of discretion. Anderson v.
Equifax Info. Services, LLC, 2007 WL 2412249, at *1 (D.
Or. 2007). As such, “[t]he reviewing court may not
simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding
court.” Grimes, 951 F.2d at 241 (citing
U.S. v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 464 (9th Cir.
1988)); see also Merritt v. International Broth. of
Boilermakers, 649 F.2d 1013, 1016-17 (5th Cir. 1981)
(“Pre-trial orders of a magistrate under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(A) . . . are not subject to a de novo
determination as are a magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations under § 636(b)(1)(B).”).
argues the Magistrate Judge's decision to place him in
leg restraints was inconsistent with Ninth Circuit precedent
U.S. v. Sanchez-Gomez. Defendant heavily relies on
the following language in Sanchez-Gomez:
“‘In all [ ] cases in which shackling has been
approved, ' we have noted, there has been ‘evidence
of disruptive courtroom behavior, attempts to escape
from custody, assaults or attempted assaults while in
custody, or a pattern of defiant behavior toward
corrections officials and judicial authorities.'”
Sanchez-Gomez, 859 F.3d at 660 (quoting
Gonzalez v. Pliler, 341 F.3d 897, 900 (9th
Cir. 2003) (alteration in original)). Defendant argues
“[t]hese are the circumstances the Court must
find exist before shackling a defendant, ” and that
“[i]ndividual facts that do not involve the type of
disruptive behavior identified in Sanchez-Gomez do
not justify the use of shackles.” (#18, at 6). However,
Defendant's tunnel vision on these examples
mischaracterizes what Sanchez-Gomez
requires. The Ninth Circuit states it plainly:
[W]e hold that if the government seeks to shackle a
defendant, it must first justify the infringement with
specific security needs as to that particular defendant.
Courts must decide whether the stated need for security
outweighs the infringement on a defendant's right. This
decision cannot be deferred to security providers or
presumptively answered by routine policies.
Id at 666.
Magistrate Judge's finding possesses basis in law, and
“the decision whether to shackle is entrusted to the
court's discretion.” Sanchez-Gomez, 859
F.3d at 660. He made the specific determination that
Defendant shall remain in leg restraints; this decision took
into account argument from both Defendant and the Government,
the recommendation of the Marshals, and the Magistrate
Judge's own experience and discretion. Defendant has
received that which Sanchez-Gomez requires:
“an individualized decision that a compelling
government purpose would be served and that shackles are the
least restrictive ...