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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Carman L. Deck
(argued the cause for Respondent)
(Attorneys for Petitioner, Counsel of Record)
Facts of the Case 

After the Missouri Supreme Court set aside Carman Deck's death sentence, Deck was presented at his new sentence hearing shackled with leg irons, handcuffs and a belly chain. Deck was again sentenced to death. The state supreme court rejected Deck's claim that his shackling violated the U.S. Constitution.


Does shackling a convicted offender during the penalty phase of a capital case violate the due process clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendment?

Decision: 7 votes for Deck, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

Yes. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the Court's 7-2 holding that the Constitution forbids the use of visible shackles during both a capital trial's guilt and penalty phases, unless such shackling is justified by an essential state interest specific to the defendant on trial (such as courtroom security). The majority argued that the law has long forbidden use of visible shackles during a capital trial's guilt phase, and that the reasons underlying this prohibition (like the possibility shackles will bias the jury) extend this rule to the penalty phase.

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DECK v. MISSOURI. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
DECK v. MISSOURI, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"DECK v. MISSOURI," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,