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US ex-judge sentenced for ordering electric shock to defendant

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

In an unusual case in the US, an ex-judge has been sentenced to participate in an anger- management programme and fined USD 5,000 for ordering an official to administer a 50,000-volt electric shock to a defendant during court proceedings.

Robert Nalley, a former Circuit Court judge in Charles County, Maryland, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of violating the civil rights of Delvon L King, as the defendant was about to be tried on a gun charge.

Nalley yesterday was sentenced to a year's probation for ordering a Charles County sheriff's deputy to administer an electrical shock to King in his courtroom.

At the sentencing, Magistrate Judge William G Connelly also imposed a USD 5,000 fine and ordered Nalley to complete an anger-management programme. King said Connelly's sentence was too light.

"To say that I'm chagrined to be standing here is an understatement," Nalley was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

Nalley, in his brief remarks in US District Court in Greenbelt, said he felt "deep regret" over his "error in judgement" which he said reflected not just on himself but also

on his family and the Charles County justice system.

King, 27, said in court that Nalley "tortured" him and deprived him of a fair trial.

Nalley got administered an electric shock to King, who was representing himself, as he made what he believed was a legal argument during jury selection on July 23, 2014.

King dropped to the ground when a 50,000-volt shock was administered through a Stun-Cuff attached to an ankle.

After paramedics determined that King was not seriously injured, Nalley continued jury selection.

King told US Magistrate Judge Connelly yesterday that he was disoriented and fearful after being shocked and was not able to defend himself to the best of his ability.

During the sentencing hearing, federal prosecutors played a videotape of the incident and, separately, an audiotape.

In the audiotape, King and Nalley briefly talk about what the judge should call the defendant, who considers himself a "sovereign citizen" and not subject to the government's laws.

They agree on a name, and as Nalley talks about the jury selection process, the defendant speaks over him, making what he believes is a legal point.

Nalley, his voice agitated, says, "Stop. Stop". Then he says: "Mr Sheriff, do it. Use it." King screams three times.

Nalley, 72, retired from the bench in September 2013. Court officials recalled him to preside over cases on a part-time basis.

About a month after the incident became public, in September 2014, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, banned Nalley from the bench.

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First Published: Fri, April 01 2016. 18:57 IST