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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Elizabeth Johnson's Shock Belt - Or Not?

Pssst! Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info for the blog takes time and money! Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you!
An example of an "inmate control" shock belt -- can deliver 50,000 volts
Trial watchers focused on the #ElizabethJohnson #BabyGabriel case have wondered about the mention of a "shock belt" the defendant may or may not be wearing. I did some scouting around dusty little corners of downtown to find some answers for you.

I'd like to mention that when I first started attending the trial, I looked for signs of such a belt around Elizabeth Johnson's waist because I rather expected to see one. Under the bulky and shapeless jail stripes, though, it was hard to discern. When she started wearing civvies (after the jury appeared), I could see that she was not. 

Then a Minute Entry surfaced referencing her wearing or not wearing the belt. People (aka Twittles!) started asking about it.

As I could see for myself, the court had ordered that Elizabeth Johnson be allowed to attend court without the shock belt. 

What I discovered during the lunch break is the original Motion to Remove Defendant's Shock Belt filed by defense attorney Marc Victor. 

In this document, Victor states forcing her to wear the shock belt is "unnecessary, painful, and prejudicial."  He goes on to describe the device, "The shock belt has two metal pieces which dig into Ms. Johnson's back causing her a great deal of pain and discomfort." Using language that deftly distances himself from the veracity of the next statement, he writes: "Undersigned Counsel has been informed that Ms. Johnson suffers from scoliosis, an abnormal curving of the spine, which is irritated by the use of the shock belt."

He has another reason for having it removed: "...the shock belt is difficult to conceal and could prejudice the jury by allowing them to realize she is in custody." 

Victor offers the court the alternative of having the Sheriff's office increase the presence of guards. He describes her as "a small girl who could easily be contained in the event of an emergency."

Sample 17 crime writers...and help support the live tweeting you love!
What may not be visible to trial watchers using streaming video are the two guards, one near the defense table and one on the far side of the room behind the view of the camera, who are always present when she is. Other guards are also involved in her detail but they are less visible to those of us inside the courtroom. These guards rotate positions. Indeed, in a bit of jail guard humor, these guards have a running "bet" with their colleagues that if any of them end up in TV footage, that person has to bring donuts for the entire rest of the staff.  A too friendly TV camera can make a real dent in a guard's lunch budget!

In addition to the guards, Elizabeth Johnson is, in fact, wearing a restraining device. It is a leg brace, concealed under her slacks, that "prevents her from walking or running without releasing the brace at each step, effectively stopping any attempts at flight."

While Marc Victor successfully got her shock belt removed, from what we're seeing at court Elizabeth Johnson does have a history of attempting to look less threatening than she really is. We see that in the texts, the stories to police, the claims to the custody judge, and so on.  Just one day before the shock belt motion was filed, lawyers for the sheriff had to get Judge Kreamer to put in effect a permanent order that Elizabeth Johnson "be transported by any means necessary for trial."  

Will you do me a favor, my friends? Will you retweet this and/or link to it? This saves me so much time! Twittles often ask the same question and I hate for anyone to go unanswered but do find it impossible to respond to every tweet or message. Thanks for getting the word out for me!

1 comment:

  1. I was unaware that she wore a shock belt..although knowing that she is bipolar is is no surprise...having delt with persons afflicted with bipoloar disease...they can be VERY obstinate and often spontaneous....and occasionally combative...so it's NO surprise she needs a shock belt lol

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