La. Senate advances bill to allow separate courtroom seating
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's Senate has approved a proposal allowing crime victims, crime witnesses or their family members to request courtroom seating separate from defendants, defendants' family members or defense witnesses.
Sen. J.P. Morell, a New Orleans Democrat, says his bill is meant to protect the people "most vulnerable to intimidation."
In particular, he says the measure would protect victims of domestic violence, who must testify against their abusers.
The Senate voted 31-5 Monday for the proposal, which heads next to the House for consideration.
Sen. Dan Claitor, a Baton Rouge Republican, opposed the bill, saying he doesn't think lawmakers "need to tell the judiciary where to seat people." Claitor withdrew his amendment that would have required the Louisiana Legislature to also honor any seating accommodation requests.