NEW ORLEANS — According to a report by KATC-TV News in Lafayette, some defendants in Lafayette Parish Court are being locked inside during proceedings, while the public is barred from entering. Lafayette Parish Court Commissioner Thomas Frederick, KATC reports, has a bailiff posted at his courtroom door to turn away members of the public, including those accompanying defendants. Those inside the courtroom are unable to exit until after their appearance before the commissioner, and must do so through a separate door.
Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said:
“The people of Lafayette are entitled to a public trial, just as they are anywhere else. Barring all entry to the courtroom not only violates the defendants’ 6th Amendment right to a public trial, it also violates the 1st Amendment rights of any members of the public and media who wish to witness the proceedings. Commissioner Fredrick should abandon this practice immediately out of respect for the Constitution he is sworn to uphold.”