By Meg Farris | WWL-TV | June 14, 2022
The Metropolitan Crime Commission says a lot went wrong when Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson made the decision to pull deputies from the courthouse on Monday, forcing the court’s closure.
“There’s actually a Louisiana law that mandates that every sheriff has to provide court security, so she violated Louisiana law when she withdrew security from the court,” MCC President Rafael Goyeneche said.
According to the Sheriff, she didn’t break to law by closing the courts on Monday, saying that the court closes for emergencies all the time, whether it be a broken air conditioning or COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have to err on the side of saving lives,” Hutson said. “I’m going to do that every time.”
Goyeneche says Sheriff Hutson went against the wishes of the court, which has a backlog of hundreds of cases because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The judge was trying to convince the sheriff not to do what she was threatening to do,” he said. “And the pleas of the judge were ignored by the sheriff.”
He says the court deputies that were supposed to work at the jail on Monday still reported to the court.
“So, those deputies that we needed for jail security at least for half of the day on Monday were still reporting to their post and waiting around doing nothing,” Goyeneche said.
He also alleges that Hutson was asked to meet with a federal judge and commissioner and that reversed the decision to pull deputies from the court house, allowing the courts to reopen Tuesday morning.
Sheriff Hutson says that’s not true. According to Hutson, her office met with the judges and the DA’s office and worked out a plan to fully staff the courts, while also maintaining security at the Orleans Parish Justice Center.
“We had to do something right now because we were in crisis mode,” Hutson said. “We did that. We did that in two days.”