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Mother arrested for posting video of Louisiana school fight

Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 22, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A woman who posted her son’s video recording of a high school fight was arrested and jailed under a little-known Louisiana law outlawing the posting of some types of crime videos.

An American Civil Liberties Union attorney raised questions Friday about the constitutionality of the law, and the grounds for arresting Maegan Adkins-Barras, 32, of Broussard.

Online booking records show Adkins-Barras was arrested under a 2008 misdemeanor statute that forbids people involved in crimes from posting video of those crimes to gain “notoriety, publicity or the attention of the public.”

Asked to comment on the case, ACLU of Louisiana lawyer Bruce Hamilton said that, based on media accounts, he doesn’t see how the jailed mother could be charged under that law.

“If the crime is the fight in the school, she was not a principal to that fight and she wasn’t an accessory,” Hamilton told The Associated Press. “It’s also very suspect to say that she posted it for the purpose of notoriety, publicity or the attention of the public.”

The police department in the town of Scott said in a release posted to its Facebook page that the fight between two students at Acadiana High School happened Tuesday and resulted in both juveniles being arrested. “Adkins-Barras admitted that once she received the video from her son, she then posted the video to social media where it was shared repeatedly,” the department said.

Adkins-Barras was released Thursday. It was not immediately known whether she had an attorney. Attempts by the AP to reach her at multiple possible telephone numbers were unsuccessful. The district attorney’s office in Lafayette Parish did not respond to a Friday afternoon telephone query about whether it would pursue the case. Conviction would carry a possible fine of up to $500 and jail sentence of up six months.

Hamilton said the law itself appears ripe for challenges for infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He also said some of the language in the statute is vague about what types of video might be illegal to post.

The law appears to have been little used since its passage. Hamilton said he found no court decisions involving it during a search Friday afternoon. And, Franz Borghardt, a criminal defense attorney who has taught criminal litigation at the LSU Law School, told The Advocate of Acadiana that he had never heard of the law until Adkins-Barras was arrested.