Iowa Inmate Awarded New Trial Over Shackles Error

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By Katie Stinson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - An appeals court has ordered a new trial for an Iowa inmate convicted of assaulting a prison guard in 2009.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Earl Griffin's trial in Johnson County may have been unfair because he was required to wear leg chains in the courtroom.

The court says a judge failed to show why Griffin presented a security risk that would justify the need for using restraints during trial. Courts have said that shackling a defendant in front of jurors should be avoided because it signals the defendant is dangerous and may prevent him from freely participating in his defense.

Griffin acknowledged he assaulted a correctional officer at the prison in Oakdale. He claimed a necessity defense, saying he needed to appear tough among other inmates.

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