Michael Gregory, a public defender in Lafayette, Louisiana, was found to be in contempt of court last week for taking out his cellphone and recording a talkative defendant's mouth being taped shut on a judge's orders. When Judge Marilyn Castle ordered defendant Michael Duhon's mouth to be taped shut during sentencing on July 18 for theft and money laundering, Gregory began filming the encounter on his phone. Apparently, Castle ordered Gregory to delete the video, but he instead submitted the video into evidence under seal. After she found him to be in contempt, Castly fined Gregory $100 and banned him from bringing his cell phone into the courthouse for six months, according to local media and the ABA Journal.
Louisiana is one of the few states that does not allow for videotaping of court proceedings. It's in the Louisiana Constitution, plain as day. I cannot endorse Mr. Gregory's actions, but I will also say that a contempt conviction can be like an anchor around one's neck. You must report it when you apply for licensure in any federal court (or for pro hac vice status in any jurisdiction where one is not license) and it follows you around like any other criminal conviction. With that being said, I would also point out my opinion that Judge Castle's actions were completely unnecessary and asinine. The better solution would have been to simply remove Duhon from the courtroom, which (to her credit) Judge Castle eventually did. Gregory said that he plans to appeal. Here's hoping his conviction gets tossed on appeal.