Tomorrow, May 14th, the House Committee on Judiciary is expected to take up HB 293 by Rep. Taylor Barras and HB 698 by Rep. Neil Abramson, which seek to improve transparency and accountability in Louisiana’s courts.
Our judicial system is not supposed to operate in darkness, where dubious behavior can thrive behind closed doors. Therefore, the most effective way to prevent corruption in our courts is to make their activities open and transparent to the people. Transparency and sunshine also help restrain the abuse of judicial power and promote public confidence in the rule of law.
In fact, our Founding Fathers considered the right to access court records so important that they included it in the First Amendment, right along with freedom of speech and religion. The First Amendment gives us the ability to access court filings such as hearing transcripts, copies of lawsuits and motions. Judicial contracts, expenditures and budget documents should be no different. Together, HB 293 and HB 698 will help bring in some much-needed sunshine.
HB 293 would require the Louisiana Supreme Court to establish and maintain a searchable online database for judicial contracts. This area of our court system is currently shrouded in secrecy. HB 293 would change that by allowing public access to basic information about how our courts are spending taxpayer money. READ THE BILL HERE
HB 698 would require the Judicial Budgetary Control Board, or a judicial body designated by the Supreme Court, to prepare and submit an annual financial report detailing the expenditures, revenues and employee positions for our courts. It is startling to realize that this basic level of information is not already compiled and made available by the court. READ THE BILL HERE
Thank you for taking action on this immediately – before the vote begins tomorrow!
House Committee on Judiciary
Chairman Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers • (504) 361-6600; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna • (504) 361-6013; email@example.com
Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero • (504) 371-0240; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite • (985) 748-2245; email@example.com
Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge • (225) 342-6777; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace • (985) 652-1228; email@example.com
Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette • (504) 277-4729; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray • (800) 935-2081; email@example.com
Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge • (225) 925-4859; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer • (318) 927-2510; email@example.com
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City • (318) 741-2790; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette • (337) 262-2252; email@example.com
Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Belle Chasse • (504) 393-5649; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Livingston • (225) 686-3887; email@example.com
Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans • (504) 568-2740; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe • (318) 362-4270; email@example.com
Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston • (318) 251-5039; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas • (337) 948-0369; email@example.com