Delvon L. King was acting as his own attorney in a gun-possession case when Charles County Circuit Court Judge Robert Nalley ran out of patience. The judge said that King was being “non-responsive” and “rude” and “citing case law that did not apply to his case.”
So Nalley ordered a deputy sheriff to administer a shock to King via a remote-controlled black box strapped to the defendant’s ankle. “Do it. . . . Use it,” Nalley said, according to a transcript of the July 23 proceeding.
The device is called a Stun-Cuff, and when the deputy pushed a button on a handheld transmitter, 50,000 pulsating volts shot into King’s Achilles’ tendon for five seconds. The defendant screamed, fell to the floor and writhed in pain.
Welcome to Judge Nalley’s courtroom, a little Guantanamo in La Plata, Md.
The incident was first reported Aug. 18 by Ruben Castaneda for the Baltimore Post-Examiner. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office has since released the findings of an internal investigation, which is required after every “use of force” incident. The investigation concluded that Nalley and Deputy Sheriff Charles P. Deehan, who administered the shock, had not acted improperly.
Paul B. DeWolfe, the state’s public defender, isn’t buying it. He has called for Nalley to be removed from the bench, noting that King could have been held in contempt for lack of judicial decorum and removed from the courtroom.
“For a judge to inflict physical pain for the sole purpose of silencing an individual is unacceptable,” DeWolfe told me Monday. “In a court of law, it is the judge’s responsibility to protect the rights of those involved in the process, not to violate them.”
As of Tuesday evening, the Maryland Judiciary had not responded to requests for comment, and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to questions about how often it had used the Stun-Cuff.
King, 25, was arrested last year when police stopped a car he was riding in and found a gun in his coat pocket. His first court appearance was in April, before Administrative Judge Amy Bragunier. But King fled during jury selection. On July 23, after King was caught, Bragunier instructed a court security officer to “take him to Judge Nalley’s courtroom and ‘Let Judge Nalley know that he is acting up,’ ” according to the report.
When he went before Nalley, King claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” for whom U.S. laws did not apply. He also challenged Nalley’s credibility as a judge, seeking proof that the judge was eligible to sit on the bench.
In 2010, Nalley was suspended for five days without pay for deflating the tires on a car that was parked in his spot at the courthouse. The car belonged to a courthouse custodian who said she parked near the entrance to keep from having to walk through the parking lot at night.
After interviewing Nalley for the use-of-force report, the investigator wrote: “Someone told him (he could not remember who) that King was wearing an electrical contraption.”
It didn’t take long for Nalley to find out what the contraption would do.
Barbara A. Davis, clerk of the court, said that Nalley told King to “shut up, approximately six times,” before telling Deehan to shock him.
The manufacturer of the Stun-Cuff, Myers Enterprises of Denver, markets the device as a “non-lethal wireless prisoner control” system.
The stated purpose is to stop prisoners who are trying to escape or about to commit a violent act.