Article 59.

Maintenance of Order in the Courtroom.

§ 15A-1031.  Custody and restraint of defendant and witnesses.

A trial judge may order a defendant or witness subjected to physical restraint in the courtroom when the judge finds the restraint to be reasonably necessary to maintain order, prevent the defendant's  escape, or provide for the safety of persons. If the judge orders a defendant or witness restrained, he must:

(1)        Enter in the record out of the presence of the jury and in the  presence of the person to be restrained and his counsel, if any, the reasons for his action; and

(2)        Give the restrained person an opportunity to object; and

(3)        Unless the defendant or his attorney objects, instruct the jurors that the restraint is not to be considered in weighing evidence or determining the issue of guilt.

If the restrained person controverts the stated reasons for restraint, the judge must conduct a hearing and make findings of fact. (1977, c. 711, s. 1.)


§ 15A-1032.  Removal of disruptive defendant.

(a)        A trial judge, after warning a defendant whose conduct is disrupting his trial, may order the defendant removed from the trial if he continues conduct which is so disruptive that the trial cannot proceed in an orderly manner. When practicable, the judge's warning and order for removal must be issued out of the presence of the jury.

(b)        If the judge orders a defendant removed from the courtroom, he must:

(1)        Enter in the record the reasons for his action; and

(2)        Instruct the jurors that the removal is not to be considered  in weighing evidence or determining the issue of guilt.

A defendant removed from the courtroom must be given the opportunity of learning of the trial proceedings through his counsel at reasonable intervals as directed by the court and must be given opportunity to return to the courtroom during the trial upon assurance of his good behavior. (1977, c. 711, s. 1.)


§ 15A-1033.  Removal of disruptive witnesses and spectators.

The judge in his discretion may order any person other than a defendant removed from a courtroom when his conduct disrupts the conduct of the trial. (1977, c. 711, s. 1.)


§ 15A-1034.  Controlling access to the courtroom.

(a)        The presiding judge may impose reasonable limitations on access to the courtroom when necessary to ensure the orderliness of courtroom proceedings or the safety of persons present.

(b)        The judge may order that all persons entering or any person present and choosing to remain in the courtroom be searched for weapons or devices that could be used to disrupt or impede the proceedings and may require that belongings carried by persons entering the courtroom be inspected. An order under this subsection must be entered on the record. (1977, c. 711, s. 1.)


§ 15A-1035.  Other powers.

In addition to the use of the powers provided in this Article, a presiding judge may maintain courtroom order through the use of his contempt powers as provided in Chapter 5A, Contempt, and through the use of other inherent powers of the court. (1977, c. 711,  s. 1.)


§§ 15A-1036 through 15A-1039.  Reserved for future codification purposes.