Federal judge shuts down remote hearing after interruptions by listening audience

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An Atlanta federal judge who allowed public access to a remote hearing on gun rights had to shut it down after interruptions from the audience—some of them intentional.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones had scheduled the hearing to consider whether issuing licenses to carry guns was an essential service that could not be shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daily Report Online reports.

Jones repeatedly asked audience members to mute their telephones, but his request went unheeded. According to the Daily Report Online, hearing participants “were frequently interrupted by loud music, running water, background conversations and occasional vocal interjections by at least one person who took issue with the lawyers’ assertions.”

Some people apparently put the hearing on hold to take phone calls, leading to background music.

About an hour into the call, Jones said he would end the meeting if there was another interruption. Five minutes later, he shut down the hearing, according to the Daily Report Online.

“I apologize to all news media organizations and the public,” Jones said. “But I cannot have people interrupting when they don’t agree with what the lawyers said.”

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