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Meeks v. Parsons

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COU RT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


January 7, 2010

GARY B. MEEKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PARSONS, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence J. O'Neill United States District Judge

ORDER PERMITTING PLAINTIFF TO WEAR CIVILIAN CLOTHES AT TRIAL (Doc. 130)

Plaintiff Gary B. Meeks ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

On October 20, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion for issuance of writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to allow his attendance at trial. (Doc. 130.) In that motion, Plaintiff requested to be permitted to wear civilian clothes at the trial of this case. (Doc. 130, pp. 4:11-28, 5:1-6.) Defendant has opposed neither the motion for Plaintiff to attend, nor his request to wear civilian clothes at the trial.

It has long been held "that an accused should not be compelled to go to trial in prison or jail clothing because of the possible impairment of the presumption so basic to the adversary system." Estelle v. Williams, 425 U.S. 501, 504-505 (1976) (citations omitted). "This is a recognition that the constant reminder of the accused's condition implicit in such distinctive, identifiable attire may affect a juror's judgment. The defendant's clothing is so likely to be a continuing influence throughout the trial that . . . an unacceptable risk is presented of impermissible factors coming into play." Id. citing Turner v. Louisia, 379 U.S. 466, 473 (1965). While the cases addressing the undue influence of a party wearing civilian clothes, as opposed to jail clothing during trial, have addressed the issue where a defendant was being tried for criminal offenses, parallels in the potential negative affect on a juror's judgment are easily drawn where an inmate is pursuing claims for violations of his civil rights while incarcerated.

Plaintiff's request to be permitted to wear civilian clothes at the trial of this case is GRANTED. Plaintiff's counsel is to bring civilian clothes, for Plaintiff to wear, on the first day of trial.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20100107

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