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Tenth Circuit Upholds Use of Stunbelt on Defendant

On September 22, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence of a man accused of retaliating against a federal witness. In upholding the conviction and sentence, the court rejected a challenge to the district court’s requirement that the defendant wear a stunbelt.

Wendell Wardell was convicted of conspiring to retaliate against a federal witness and retaliating against a federal witness after Jessie Cluff was beaten by two assailants that Wardell and his co-defendant had arranged to attack Cluff. Cluff was attacked for testifying against Wardell in a tax fraud case.

During the trial in the matter, the district court required Wardell to wear a stunbelt. Wardell and his co-conspirators were convicted. Wardell was sentenced to 115 months to be served consecutively to his sentence in his tax fraud case.

Wardell argued an appeal that the district court erred in requiring him to wear a stunbelt. The appeals court disagreed. “The district court appropriately justified the measure through the articulation of defendant-specific security concerns,” the court wrote.

See: United States v. Wardell, 591 F.3d 1279 (10th Cir. 2009).

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Related legal case

United States v. Wardell