PINAC correspondent Theresa Richard was detained for photographing public records in Louisiana last week, even though there is no law forbidding citizens from photographing public records while inspecting them.
“I was told that I was not allowed to do this after I snapped this one picture,” said Richard. “After being detained for over an hour I was told that I was banned from the courthouse.”
Deputy Smith of the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office ordered Richard to leave the civil records department and held her in an office on the other side of the courthouse.
Richard was asking for the record of a lawsuit against the city of Crowley by one of their officers. The case was listed on the agenda for the Crowley city council meeting that night.
Now the city of Crowley is set to have another lawsuit on their hands, as Richard intends to file suit for being illegally detained in violation of her right to inspect public records. Richard also recently filed another lawsuit against the police for violating her right to record.
After detaining her for more than an hour, Smith handed Richard a printed page, telling her it contained a list of the laws she broke. But nothing on the page states that it is illegal to photograph public records, which is what he kept telling her was a crime.
Smith also told Richard she was banned from the courthouse and denied her access to public records she had requested.
The courthouse had a sign stating that cameras were forbidden starting March 1, 2015. Despite being told by a deputy at the door of the building that people would be not have to worry about cameras in the building until March, courthouse employees told Richard she was violating the law after snapping a photo.
She began video recording, capturing the entire exchange on the videos below.
“Can you imagine how they treat someone who doesn’t know that it’s a constitutional right to inspect and photograph public documents here in Louisiana,” asked Richard, who has filed a complaint against Deputy Smith with the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department.
“I spoke to the Clerk of Court in Acadia Parish, Robby Baroushe, and he stood behind his employees, offered no apology, and told me that if I came back into the courthouse to photograph public records, I will risk arrest as they are stubbornly sticking to their behavior.”