Parish: Caddo

Police Department: Louisiana Police

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (“RFK Human Rights”), on behalf of Anthony Monroe, filed an application for a supervisory writ with the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, after Mr. Monroe was convicted of battery of a police officer and resisting an officer.

On the early morning of November 29, 2019, Mr. Monroe, an elderly Black man, was detained, beaten, and unlawfully arrested by a Louisiana State Police trooper during a traffic stop. While the alleged reason for the traffic stop, speeding, was never pursued, Mr. Monroe was criminally charged with battery and resisting. After a bench trial, Mr. Monroe was convicted on both counts. Mr. Monroe seeks to overturn these convictions. Prior to the 2019 encounter, Mr. Monroe had never had any trouble with law enforcement and had no criminal record.

Mr. Monroe first argues in his appeal that he was unconstitutionally denied his right to a jury trial as it relates to the battery charge.  Jury trials are deemed necessary under United States Supreme Court precedent when the charge at issue is deemed “serious,” as opposed to “petty.”  Because the Louisiana legislature has enumerated battery of a police officer as a “crime of violence”—placing it alongside charges such as rape and murder, and also deemed police officers a protected class under its hate crime laws—there is no question that the crime is a “serious” one.  Moreover, conviction of the offence carries with it the denial of someone’s Second Amendment right to carry firearms and here, it also included the revocation of Mr. Monroe’s gaming license, which for the preceding 25 years had provided him with the means to obtain a livelihood.

Mr. Monroe next argues that his resisting conviction should be reversed because he has the right to defend himself against an unlawful arrest. Indeed, here, Mr. Monroe never interfered with, nor obstructed, the officer from issuing him a traffic citation. Critically, verbal opposition does not constitute resisting in Louisiana, such that Mr. Monroe’s questioning of, and verbal opposition to, the officer did not constitute resisting. Accordingly, the officer did not have probable cause to arrest Mr. Monroe, rendering the arrest illegal.

Finally, Mr. Monroe concludes that, because both convictions at issue are labeled misdemeanors, he does not have the right to appeal either conviction.  Having neither a right to a jury trial nor a right to appeal on both his convictions amounts to a denial of due process.

Mr. Monroe is represented by the ACLU of Louisiana and Delia Addo-Yobo at RFK Human Rights.

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