Analysis: Notes from a 'virtually' crowded courtroom

Analysis: Notes from a 'virtually' crowded courtroom


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – If the House and Senate, together, giveth, can the House, alone, taketh away?

That was the constitutional question before a state judge in Baton Rouge last week in an online hearing that provided the public – those who could squeeze in, virtually, to an online courtroom – with an example of complex legal procedure and a refresher course in middle school civics.

There also was an impromptu example of what can happen when courtroom decorum is ignored – even in a virtual courtroom. Judge William Morvant, in Baton Rouge, couldn’t order bailiffs to remove one observer. But he could order that the man’s microphone be muted, and it quickly was – the pandemic-age penalty for possible contempt of court. Or, maybe, contempt of Zoom.

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The silenced observer, eager for the state to shed coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, was likely unhappy with the outcome of the hearing. It dealt with a

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