Bruce Carton at Legal Blog Watch noticed that the trial of accused murderer Joshua Monson is going forward despite his best efforts to derail it by poking three successive lawyers with some sort of writing implement. See "Man Who Stabbed His First Two Lawyers With a Pencil Stabs Another Lawyer With a Pencil," Lowering the Bar (Nov. 2, 2011) (clarifying, however, that the third time it was actually a pen). As LBW explained, Monson's trial began last Thursday in Everett, Washington, but not without various safety measures designed to do things like, let's say, keep him from stabbing his fourth lawyer with a pencil.
Monson will be strapped to his chair, as he has been during all post-poking pre-trial hearings, but the judge agreed that the "special chair" he has been strapped to until now would be too conspicuous to use during a jury trial. Instead, Monson "will essentially be seat-belted to an office chair," his limbs will be restrained with leather cuffs and he will also be required to wear an electric stun cuff that can be activated by corrections officers. The judge initially ruled that both Monson's hands would be restrained, but agreed to allow him to have one hand free if he agreed to sit some distance away from his lawyer. Hopefully that distance is greater than the length of his arm plus one (1) writing implement.
The jury, of course, will not notice any of this, not that Monson should be able to complain about any effect it might have on them. But in addition to nixing the "special chair," the judge suggested other measures would be taken to minimize this as much as possible. The restraints will be hidden under Monson's clothes, and nobody will be asked to rise when the jury enters the room (because Monson won't be able to). I assume the one-hand-free rule is also meant to contribute to this, although it also means the defendant will not be sitting right next to his lawyer. The lawyers also discussed "how they might rearrange the courtroom furniture to better hide the restraints," but unfortunately no details of that proposed arrangement were given.
So far the trial appears to have been limited to opening statements, which were delivered without incident last week. "No lawyers were injured on Thursday," at least, reported the Everett Herald, but I don't think anybody should get too comfortable. After all, this guy is basically the Hannibal Lecter of stabbing lawyers with pencils.
Note that the Herald's report appears to exaggerate the number of lawyers stabbed by one, stating that Monson "is accused of stabbing three of his attorneys with smuggled pencils and one lawyer with the attorney's own pen." This set off a frantic search by me to try to determine whether I had missed a lawyer stabbing, but I think the Herald is confused by the fact that the third stabbing was actually carried out with a pen, not a pencil. I hope my previous headline, in which I deliberately fudged on that detail because it was getting too long anyway, did not mislead the Herald. On the other hand, it would be kind of amusing if it had.