By Jeremy Evans, Clerk of Court
As Clerk, my staff and I always put the people first and will continue to do so! Since opening our Archives Office, 214 Washington Avenue, Mansfield, Louisiana, 71052, at 318-270-6225, it has relieved some of the inconveniences of the draconian order in place at the 42nd Judicial District Courthouse, which prohibits cell phones, smart watches, laptops, and other electronic devices in the courthouse.
Since the courthouse belongs to the DeSoto Parish Police Jury, they would have a right to challenge the district court’s order. It is unclear whether the Clerk of Court could assert a similar challenge.
This order is likely based on Rule 5.2 of the Uniform Rules for District Courts. The rule provides: The sheriff or his or her designated deputy shall provide security for the courtrooms, chambers, judicial offices, and hallways within the courthouse. Security procedures shall be approved by the chief judge of the District Court or other court.
Recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal had occasion to address the issue of security in the DeSoto Parish Courthouse. In re Courthouse Security, 52,787 (La. App. 2d Cir. 8/14/2019), 278 So. 3d 1061. In the cited case, the Second Circuit found that the chief judge of a district court has administrative authority over security measures implemented at the courthouse. However, judge’s orders are subject to challenge via either an injunction proceeding or declaratory judgment action.
Since the Order here is merely verbal, it is not clear as to who may and who may not bring electronic devices into the courthouse, nor is it clear how such an order protects the courthouse as a “security measure.” The verbal order does not include elected officials, court personnel and law enforcement. Your Clerk of Court has inquired with other judicial districts and have not found a similar order to be in place anywhere else in the state. Desoto Parish appears to be the only judicial district that prohibits electronic devices in the courthouse.