Trials & Litigation

Federal magistrate says sheriff must do courthouse time-outs if he keeps missing discovery deadlines

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Predicting that monetary sanctions will prove an ineffective if a Louisiana sheriff continues to miss discovery deadlines in litigation over conditions at Orleans Parish Prison, a federal magistrate has come up with an alternative penalty plan.

Parents will likely recognize it as a version of the time-outs routinely used to punish children, the New Orleans Advocate reports.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan explained to Sheriff Marlin Gusman how the plan will work in a written order this week:

“If Sheriff Gusman ignores the undersigned’s discovery orders and his responsibilities to respond to reasonable inquiries from counsel for plaintiffs a third time, Sheriff Gusman will be required to appear in an assigned courtroom … where he will remain for one hour without access to cell phone or other mobile device or anything else to assist him to pass the time.”

During this time, no one else will be allowed to be in the courtroom, located at the Hale Boggs federal building in New Orleans, the order continues. “Each time thereafter that similar conduct occurs, Sheriff Gusman will be required to appear in an assigned courtroom on the same terms and conditions. The time will be doubled on each occasion in an arithmetic progression.”

Attorney Blake Arcuri represents Gusman. He said the sheriff has worked diligently to provide the “voluminous” discovery sought by Shushan, made “a good faith attempt to provide all the requested information which was available” and didn’t intend “to delay or hinder these proceedings in any way,” the newspaper reports.

Related coverage: “Judge subpoenas sheriff to explain why assistant DA jailed for violating gag order was released”

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