Lafayette, LA — District Judge Marilyn Castle is making national headlines this week after she ordered court room police to put duct tape over a man’s mouth while he was being sentenced. Then, going even further, she went after the public defender in the room who filmed the heinous act, for contempt.
On July 18, Michael C. Duhon was in court for sentencing after he was found guilty of money laundering and theft over $25,000. After Duhon attempted to make multiple objections, he was then silenced by the judge.
As the Advocate reports:
According to court minutes, Duhon objected when the judge asked him to stop submitting motions on his own behalf in the case instead of through his attorney. He objected again when evidence was submitted. He attempted to offer arguments against the inclusion of the evidence and was told to speak through his attorney.
After requesting at least twice for Duhon to remain quiet, Castle ordered the bailiff to tape Duhon’s mouth shut during witness testimony.
“During testimony of Tanya Ortego, the Court ordered the Bailiff to tape the defendant’s mouth due to the defendant’s consistent interruption of this court proceeding and multiple instructions from the Court to remain silent,” the minutes said.
Aaron Adams, Duhon’s public defense attorney objected to his client being silenced with duct tape and, after several minutes, it was removed. Adams asked the judge to simply remove Duhon from the courtroom instead of putting duct tape on his mouth.
“Castle went on to sentence Duhon to 11 years in prison with credit for time served. The judge also recommended he be transferred to a facility where he could receive mental health treatment,” the Advocate reported.
While the entire incident unfolded, another public defender, not representing Duhon, pulled out his camera and filmed the bailiff putting tape over a man’s mouth on the judge’s orders. That man, Michael Gregory is now facing potential charges of contempt for filming the encounter on his cell phone.
According to the minutes, “the Court further ordered that all filming dissemination from this court proceeding must be retrieved/destroyed….”
Gregory has been ordered to appear in court Friday in front of Castle to see if he will be charged with contempt.
According to the Advocate, the court order given to Gregory states he violated district court rules “by broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in the courtroom” when he recorded “a portion of the court proceedings during a sentencing hearing and broadcast those proceedings to others.”
While this may seem over the top, the idea of taping the mouths of defendants has been an issue before and made its way to the Supreme Court.
“But even to contemplate such a technique, much less see it, arouses a feeling that no person should be tried while shackled and gagged except as a last resort…the use of this technique is itself something of an affront to the very dignity and decorum of judicial proceedings that the judge is seeking to uphold,” Justice Hugo Black wrote in the majority opinion in the 1970 Supreme Court case of Illinois v. Allen, which declared the practice abhorrent, yet legal.
Justice William Brennan, agreeing, wrote that gagging “…offends not only judicial dignity and decorum, but also that respect for the individual which is the lifeblood of the law.”
Indeed, to see a man be degraded while attempting to defend himself is certainly disconcerting. However, it has happened before. In fact, TFTP reported on a similar incident just last year.
As TFTP reported last year, Franklyn Williams had been convicted of multiple robberies and was being sentenced last July for his crimes. He deserved to be locked up. During that sentencing however, Williams attempted to state things he felt were important to get them on record, but he says he was continuously interrupted.
When FOX8 asked Williams why he wouldn’t stop talking, he replied, “Cause the judge would not allow me to say the things that I was trying to say on record. He would always stop me before I was able to explain anything on my behalf.”
According to Williams, he faced injustices in jail and wanted to get these listed on the court record. However, he was unable to do so.
The judge told FOX8 that he was justified in ordering the use of the tape because Williams showed disrespect for his courtroom, the system, and the parties involved.
Williams said that the incident has left him humiliated. “So when they put the tape on my mouth I just felt, I felt so humiliated,” he said, adding, “I just felt like wow it’s abuse of discretion in the courtroom.”
“And I was so concerned about if my children seen this, and my family seen this. I feel that my constitutional right of freedom of speech has been violated,” he noted.
As TFTP previously reported, a judge in Maryland was actually arrested and charged for a similar reaction to a talking defendant. However, this judge was far more sadistic. A man representing himself in a Maryland court was shocked with 50,000 volts of electricity by the judge because he continued to speak when the judge ordered him to stop.
Judge Robert Nalley pleaded guilty in February 2016 to depriving the defendant of his civil rights and video of the horrific incident showed that abuse.
Nalley was facing up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000 after pleading guilty. However, since he is subject to a different set of rules because he is a judge, he won’t see a single day in jail, and he will only pay a $5,000 fine.