A Lafayette judge ordered a bailiff to tape a defendant’s mouth shut in her courtroom and found a public defender in contempt for recording the incident.
15th Judicial District Court Judge Marilyn Castle ordered that Michael Duhon’s mouth be taped shut after he repeatedly interrupted sentencing proceedings. Duhon had been convicted of money laundering and theft of more than $25,000 in February of 2019.
Duhon was raising objections regarding evidence submission and inclusion and refused two requests to speak through his attorney, Aaron Adams. After the second request was ignored, Judge Castle ordered the bailiff to duct tape Duhon’s mouth shut.
Defense attorney Adams objected and even requested his client be removed from the proceedings rather than be subjected to the primitive gag. The tape was later removed following his request, though the court minutes do not say how long Duhon’s mouth remained taped shut.
A 1970 ruling by the United States Supreme Court states that a trial judge may gag a defendant during a trial so they can remain in the courtroom without disrupting the proceedings. However, this isn’t a choice many judges make. Last year, an Ohio judge apologized after ordering a defendant’s mouth taped shut in a similar fashion.
Attorney Micheal Gregory, a public defender present at the proceedings, filmed the incident, prompting Judge Castle to find him contempt for “broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in a courtroom.” According to KTBS, he is barred from bringing a cellphone into the 15th Judicial District court building and from using anyone else’s cellphone inside the building for six months. He was also given a $100 fine.
A Louisiana attorney was found in contempt of court for filming a defendant in another case having his mouth taped shut by a bailiff.
Judge Marilyn Castle says public defender Michael Gregory cannot bring his cellphone, nor use someone else's, in court for six months. pic.twitter.com/X5uNMKmORC
— Graphenes (@Graphenes1) July 28, 2019
Gregory told KTBS that he felt “a compelling necessity to record the proceeding,” and plans to appeal the contempt ruling.
Judge Castle sentenced Duhon to 11 years in prison with credit for time served and recommended he be taken to a mental health facility.
The video of the incident has been sealed.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor. In addition to her work with Big Easy Magazine, she has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_