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United States v. Sanchez-Gomez

Supreme Court of the United States

March 26, 2018, Argued; May 14, 2018, Decided

No. 17-312.


 [*1536]  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court.

Four criminal defendants objected to being bound by full restraints during pretrial proceedings in their cases, but the District Court denied relief. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the use  [**797]  of such restraints was unconstitutional, even though each of [***5]  the four criminal cases had ended prior to its decision. The question presented is whether the appeals were saved from mootness either because the defendants sought “class-like relief” in a “functional class action,” or because the challenged practice was “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”

It is the responsibility of the United States Marshals Service to “provide for the security . . . of the United States District Courts.” 28 U. S. C. §566(a). To fulfill that duty, the United States Marshal for the Southern District of California requested that the judges of that district permit the use of full restraints on all in-custody defendants during nonjury proceedings. When “full restraints” are applied, “a defendant’s hands are closely handcuffed together, these handcuffs are connected by chain to another chain running around the defendant’s waist, and the defendant’s feet are shackled and chained together.” 859 F.3d 649, 653 (CA9 2017) (en banc). In support of his proposal, the Marshal cited safety concerns arising from understaffing, past incidents of violence, and the high volume of in-custody defendants produced in the Southern District. The judges agreed to the Marshal’s request, with modifications providing that a district [***6]  or magistrate judge may require a defendant to be produced without restraints, and that a defendant can request that this be done. See App. 78-79.

Respondents Jasmin Morales, Rene Sanchez-Gomez, Moises Patricio-Guzman, and Mark Ring were among the defendants produced by the Marshals Service for pretrial proceedings in full restraints. They raised constitutional objections to the use of such restraints in their respective cases, and to the restraint policy as a whole. They noted that the policy had resulted in the imposition of full restraints on, for example, a woman with a fractured wrist, a man with a severe leg injury, a blind man, and a wheelchair-bound woman. The District Court denied their challenges.

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138 S. Ct. 1532 *; 200 L. Ed. 2d 792 **; 2018 U.S. LEXIS 2804 ***; 86 U.S.L.W. 4261; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 230; 2018 WL 2186177


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Subsequent History: Appeal dismissed by, As moot, On remand at United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18007 (9th Cir., July 2, 2018)


United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, 859 F.3d 649, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9529 (9th Cir. Cal., May 31, 2017)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.


moot, pretrial, certification, mandamus, supervisory, class-like, repetition, custody

Civil Procedure, Justiciability, Standing, Personal Stake, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Elements, The Judiciary, Mootness, Mootness, Real Controversy Requirement, Voluntary Cessation Exception, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Preliminary Considerations, Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Pretrial Motions & Procedures, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Extraordinary Writs, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Evading Review Exception, Conduct Capable of Repetition