Bugs in City Court

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Hugo A. Holland, Jr. J.D., Assistant District Attorney, First Judicial District, is an expert in many things!  Not only an accomplished prosecutor, he is an expert on the legality of having microphones on the cameras in the Shreveport City Courthouse. This cameras and microphones record conversations of people in the lobby of the courthouse talking to their attorneys. Some people consider this controversial. But this is the report on what he has said is the prevailing law regarding this issue.

There are warning signs, prominently posted, around the courthouse. And per City code 15:1301 et seq.  Interception of oral communications is only a felony if the person whose communications is intercepted has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation.  A public building with proper signage that cameras have microphones, or that the building is under constant surveillance, is hardly the type of place where anyone could have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

We doubt very seriously if there is any monitoring equipment in the rooms off the courtrooms used for conferences.  As a matter  of fact, we would bet a paycheck that the only areas monitored are the areas generally used by the public.  It seems sort of silly to suggest you have to go to the bathroom for an attorney to talk to a client.  So the logical plan for confidentiality is to stay in the lobby and speak in a low voice, or, as necessary, go to a private interview room, or just step outside.

And frankly, we doubt very seriously that anyone is sitting and listening to the daily conversations that transpire in the hallways. The deputy marshals are in charge of security and are undoubtedly watching what happens from time to time.  We would also hazard to guess that unless someone starts hollering and it is abundantly apparent on the system, they probably ignore what anyone says.

As for why it is needed, that is completely up to the discretion of the City Marshal who is in charge of security in the courthouse. It certainly comes in handy if and when a problem does occur. Then all that is needed is to go back to the recording history and determine who the responsible parties are and prosecute them. So, if you’re looking for bugs, they can be found in Shreveport City Court.

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