Judge orders man’s mouth taped shut

National

LAFAYETTE, La. (CNN) — A hearing in a Louisiana courtroom played out more like a dramatic film than a legal proceeding.

The judge ordered a defendant’s mouth taped shut after he refused to stop interrupting her.

The 51-year-old man was found guilty of theft and money laundering after stealing more than $400,000 from someone.

The ACLU is blasting the move, but one lawyer says while this action is rare, it can sometimes be appropriate.

According to court records, during a sentencing hearing, defendant Michael Duhon had his mouth taped shut by a bailiff after repeated interruptions in Judge Marilyn Castle’s courtroom.

Attorney Tommy Guilbeau has practiced law for 50 years. He says he’s only seen this happen twice before.

“It’s a last resort for a judge,” Guilbeau said. “They’ve tried everything they can and some phases of the trial, the defendant has a constitutional right to be present.”

Guilbeau says the Louisiana Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct calls for judges to maintain order.

“She tried to get this guy to stop interrupting her several times and it didn’t work. So, yes, she had a right to do it and it was the proper thing to do,” Guilbeau said.

A public defender who was not representing Duhon recorded the bailiff taping his mouth.

Guilbeau says while lawyers are privileged to bring phones in the courtroom, the judge could see this as abusing that perk.

“A judge shall prohibit broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in the courtroom. They’re mandated by the Supreme Court canons and the local rules of the 15th Judicial District,” Guilbeau said.

That lawyer was forced to delete all copies of the video.

Now he’s facing potential contempt of court charges.

“In my career, I’ve seen lawyers sent to jail, usually for an hour or two and let out. I’m not prejudging this at all. I think an apology needs to be offered to the court and a learning experience for all of us,” Guilbeau said.

Judge Marilyn Castle is not commenting, her secretary citing the code of judicial conduct.

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