ACA.supremecourt.070419

After lawyers for the Baton Rouge Police Department sought to have him held in contempt of court for releasing edited bodycam footage of officers searching his teenage client, attorney Thomas Frampton asked a federal judge to intervene.

In a motion filed Wednesday in federal court, Frampton claims BRPD retaliated against him, violating his free speech rights. He requested an injunction to halt the contempt proceedings. 

That was after an East Baton Rouge juvenile court judge agreed to hear arguments July 12 on whether Frampton should be held in contempt. He could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Frampton released the video to highlight how Baton Rouge police searched the teen, looked in his underwear, and later entered an apartment without permission or a warrant. The case garnered national media attention after video release, which followed a $35,000 settlement given to Clarence Green, the teen's older brother, who spent five months incarcerated on a federal gun possession charge before a judge dismissed the case and criticized the officers involved for sloppy police work. 

The lead officer in the case, Ken Camallo, was sentenced last week to a demotion and unpaid suspension for policy violations committed in this case and others. However, officials said the so-called "strip search" wasn't the problem — the warrantless entry was.

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In his request for a contempt hearing, Parish Attorney Andy Dotson noted that BRPD got a "substantial amount of negative correspondence from the public" after Frampton disseminated the bodycam video, which had already been filed into the court record as discovery in the Green case and released to The Advocate months earlier through a public records from the clerk of court. BRPD officials have declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

Through his attorneys, Frampton argued in recent court filings that the contempt request is off base because there was no underlying juvenile court case. The state law sealing juvenile court records specifically refers to "matters or proceedings before the juvenile court" — which does not apply here because the teenager shown in the footage never faced criminal charges after police found marijuana in his underwear and guns in his bedroom, attorneys argued.

In addition to the request for injunction, Frampton filed a similar petition for dismissal in juvenile court. 

"The City of Baton Rouge is trying to throw a law professor in jail for contempt of a proceeding that never existed," attorney William Most said in a statement. "Baton Rouge citizens should be ashamed of their parish attorney's office for seeking this expensive, retaliatory, nonsensical course of action."


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.