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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On the afternoon of Oct. 20, 2004, Ralph Boone was driving a maroon Buick in a Houston neighborhood notorious to police for narcotics complaints. He was stopped by Officer Jason Turrentine of the Houston Police Department, because he and his female passenger were not wearing seatbelts. While approaching the vehicle after it pulled over, Turrentine saw Boone moving around as if he were trying to hide something. Because Boone was unable to provide identification and seemed very nervous when Turrentine questioned him, Turrentine asked Boone to step out of the vehicle. When Boone stepped out, Turrentine noticed a clear plastic bag containing several beige rocks on the driver’s seat where Boone had been sitting. Turrentine’s field test indicated that the rocks contained cocaine. Turrentine arrested Boone and had the car towed to a nearby parking lot. Pursuant to an inventory search, Turrentine discovered several items in the front area of the car, including Boone’s cable bill, a bottle of codeine prescribed to Boone, a bottle of codeine prescribed to another individual, and a soda bottle containing a red liquid that later testing revealed to be codeine. Turrentine also found a large black bag containing scales, walkie-talkies and binoculars in the trunk of the car. Authorities charged Boone with possession of a controlled substance. At trial, Turrentine identified Boone and described the offense. A police chemist confirmed that the rocks found in the vehicle contained cocaine. Boone did not testify and the jury found him guilty. Boone entered a plea of true to two enhancement paragraphs, and the trial court sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment. Boone appealed. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Before voir dire and outside the presence of the jury panel, Boone’s attorney objected to his client being handcuffed during the proceedings. After a fairly lengthy discourse, the trial judge overruled the objection, stating that he was concerned that the cane Boone needed to walk could be used as a deadly weapon. This concern, coupled with Boone’s previous convictions and the length of incarceration he was facing in this case, led the judge to order Boone shackled in handcuffs for the duration of his trial. In the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision Deck v. Missouri, the court recognized that a criminal defendant has the right to be tried without the use of restraints. A trial court does, however, have discretion to order restraints when there is a showing of a manifest need or exceptional circumstances, such as when a defendant poses a threat to himself or others. Nothing in the record of Boone’s case, the court stated, reflected any manifest need or exceptional circumstances warranting the use of restraints. At the time of his trial, the court noted, Boone was a 54-year-old man with no history of any violent or assaultive offenses. Nothing in our record, the court stated, indicated that Boone had expressed any intent to escape, exhibited any threatening or violent behavior, or disrupted the courtroom proceedings. The court concluded that the trial judge abused his discretion in ordering that Boone be handcuffed for the duration of trial. Because it was likely that jurors saw the handcuffs on Boone during trial, the court could not say beyond a reasonable doubt that the trial court’s abuse of discretion in handcuffing Boone did not contribute to his conviction. OPINION:Guzman, J.; Hedges, C.J., and Hudson and Guzman, JJ.

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