The Law: Order in the Courtroom

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right. . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

—Sixth Amendment

But what if the accused turns his own trial into a soapbox, a shouting match or a near riot? If the judge ejects him, can he still be tried and convicted in absentia? With a stern yes, the Supreme Court last week upheld the power of trial judges to control unruly defendants by citing them for contempt, removing them from the courtroom or shackling and gagging them. The decision was an obvious response...

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