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16-1312 - John Stephenson v. Ron Neal


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16-1312 - John Stephenson v. Ron Neal
August 4, 2017
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Filed opinion of the court by Judge Posner. The possibility that the defendant’s having to wear the stun belt—for no reason, given that he had no history of acting up in a courtroom—contaminated the penalty phase of the trial persuades us to reverse the district court’s denial of Stephenson’s petition for habeas corpus and to remand with directions to vacate his sentence. After the completion of these proceedings, Indiana may choose to seek the death penalty anew and hold a new penalty hearing before a jury without Stephenson wearing the stun belt, or to seek a lesser sentence and hold a penalty hearing before a judge. The court’s refusal to vacate his conviction, however, is affirmed. William J. Bauer, Circuit Judge; Richard A. Posner, Circuit Judge and Joel M. Flaum, Circuit Judge. [6858970-1] [6858970] [16-1312]