On Tuesday (May 7), a judge ruled that New Orleans must release the locations of the 400 clearly visible crime cameras around the city.
The ruling comes as a result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center in February. The groups filed the suit after the city denied public defender Laura Bixby’s public records request for a map of the publicly visible surveillance cameras. According to Bixby, footage from the cameras could exonerate her client.
“Just as these cameras capture incriminating evidence, they can also help prove an alibi or support a claim of innocence. Public defenders should have the same right to know the whereabouts of this footage as other members of the criminal justice system,” Bixby stated.
The groups issued a joint statement hailing Civil District Judge Ethel Julian’s ruling as a victory for the justice system.
“The public’s right of access to public records is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the Constitution,” the ruling reads. It also asserts that because the New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) office is not an investigatory or law enforcement agency covered under an exception that would have allowed them to deny the public records request.
The City has not yet issued a statement on the ruling.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.