The Times has an article this morning about the hearing yesterday at the Bossier Parish Courthouse for Gerald Needham, who is charged in the triple murder of Bill Norris and two other men last month.
On May 2nd Needham’s attorney, Randal Fish, filed for a preliminary examination to determine if Needham should be held pending an indictment. The hearing was set for yesterday.
According to the Times account, the courtroom was changed 5 minutes before the hearing at the request of the prosecutor in order to accommodate his schedule. When a Times reporter and Needham’s family went to the other courtroom, they say they were turned away by a plainclothes BCPD officer. The Times account also says that a receptionist in the DA’s office said the hearing was closed.
The judge, however, did not close the hearing, and the Bailiffs in the courtroom say that there was no order to close the hearing.
I do think it is curious that they would move the hearing to a different courtroom. How did this save the prosecutor any time? Could he not have presented his evidence in the courtroom that was currently being used?
It would seem to be a simple thing to get answers by asking the BCPD officer, or someone with BCPD, on whose authority the officer was turning people away from the hearing, a job that is the function of the sheriff. Who instructed the officer to do that?
Second, ask the receptionist in the DA’s office who instructed her that it was a closed hearing.
If the DA wanted a closed hearing because he was afraid of disruption from Needham’s family he could have just asked the judge to close the hearing.
Was this a case of bad communication? Did the BCPD officer actually block the reporter and the family from entering the courtroom, or did he just convey to them that it was a closed hearing. Is it possible that he had that impression and was just passing information to them, however incorrect, and not acting in an official capacity. If someone in the DA’s office said the hearing was closed, could the officer have gotten the information from that source?
This is all conjecture, I have no idea what happened. I am hoping for a simple explanation.
The Times also has an editorial this morning about the incident.