A man had his mouth taped shut on order from 15th Judicial District Court Judge Marilyn Castle after repeated interruptions during a hearing July 18 in Lafayette.
The man, Michael C. Duhon, was in court for sentencing after being found guilty in February of theft over $25,000 and money laundering.
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.
The tape was removed after an objection from Duhon’s public defense attorney, Aaron Adams. He requested the judge remove his client from the courtroom instead of putting duct tape on his client's mouth.
The minutes don’t provide details about what Duhon said, how long his mouth was taped or if Duhon addressed being duct taped after the tape was removed. They also don’t fully explore Adams’ objection.
An audio recording of the proceeding was unavailable.
Adams declined Wednesday to comment on the duct tape incident because it is linked to his client’s ongoing court proceedings.
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.
Public defender Michael Gregory, who does not represent Duhon but was present in court at the time of the incident, is facing potential contempt charges for filming the encounter on his cell phone, according to court minutes.
Gregory met with Castle for a private in-chamber conference with representation after the hearing. He was then ordered to appear in court to determine if he will be held in contempt.
Minutes also show “the Court further ordered that all filming dissemination from this court proceeding must be retrieved/destroyed….”
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.”
Source: The Acadiana Advocate