Civil Rights

Public Defender Loses Lawsuit Over His Courtroom Scuffle with Deputies

A Louisiana criminal defense lawyer with a reputation for being feisty and abrasive has lost a federal civil rights lawsuit he filed over a December 2009 scuffle with deputies in a Orleans Parish Criminal District courtroom.

Ruling yesterday after a one-day bench trial in August, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance held that Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputies used reasonable force, reports the Associated Press.

The incident began with a dispute about whether a twin represented by on-duty public defender Stuart Weg should be released, because he had been arrested on a warrant for his brother. Accounts differ as to exactly what happened next.

Ordered out of court by Judge Benedict Willard, Weg, who is in his early 50s, said he balked but otherwise did nothing to provoke deputies ordered by Willard to do their job, the Times-Picayune reported in an August article that describes the testimony of Weg and Judge Willard about the courtroom melee.

Some witnesses supported Weg’s account. Others said he threw an elbow that resulted in deputies taking him down.

Charged with battery, criminal trespass and resisting arrest counts that were later dropped, Weg alleged in his civil rights suit that deputies used excessive force and slapped him with false and malicious criminal charges.

Additional coverage:

Times-Picayune: “Public defender sues Sheriff’s Office over 2009 arrest in court”

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