Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab file criminal appeal following Louisiana man’s unlawful arrest during traffic stop

BOSSIER CITY, LA, December 18, 2023 —Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU-LA) have filed a criminal appeal on behalf of their client Anthony Monroe, after Mr. Monroe was convicted of battery of a police officer and resisting an officer. The appeal, filed on November 17, highlights significant errors throughout Mr. Monroe’s case – including the denial of his constitutional right to a jury trial and serious flaws underlying his initial charges – and calls for Mr. Monroe’s charges to be overturned.

In 2019, Mr. Monroe, an elderly Black man, was detained, beaten, and unlawfully arrested by a Louisiana State Police trooper during a traffic stop. Mr. Monroe was hospitalized for his injuries, including a heart attack he endured in a police vehicle during his transport to jail. While the alleged reason for the traffic stop – speeding – was never pursued, Mr. Monroe was criminally charged with battery and resisting. After a bench trial, he was convicted on both counts, despite notable evidence to the contrary.

“From the moment he was pulled over, Mr. Monroe’s case has been riddled with errors,” said Delia Addo-Yobo, staff attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “His original charges don’t stand under scrutiny, and his encounter with the police left him hospitalized. But perhaps most egregiously, Mr. Monroe was denied his constitutional right to a jury trial and due process.”

Jury trials are deemed necessary under United States Supreme Court precedent when the charge at issue is deemed “serious,” as opposed to “petty.” Because the Louisiana legislature has enumerated battery of a police officer as a “crime of violence,” there is no question that the charge was a “serious” one. The charge was also serious in its personal ramifications, as Mr. Monroe’s conviction resulted in the revocation of his gaming license, which had been his means of livelihood for 25 years.

“As if being the victim of police violence is not enough, Mr. Monroe was also a victim of the criminal legal system,” said Nora Ahmed, ACLU of Louisiana legal director. “Here, not only were false charges issued against him by his perpetrators, he, like so many other police brutality survivors we represent in our Justice Lab program, was also denied his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial on those charges. With this case, Justice Lab aims to put an end to this practice once and for all. The criminal legal system is not, nor can it become, an engine to quell the people’s constitutional rights.”

Given the specifics of Mr. Monroe’s case and the denial of his constitutional rights, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the ACLU of Louisiana have called for Mr. Monroe’s battery and resisting charges to be overturned and his sentence vacated.

The appeal is currently awaiting review in the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.

About the ACLU of Louisiana

Since 1956, the ACLU of Louisiana has worked to advance and preserve the civil rights and civil liberties of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in Louisiana. We are part of a nationwide network of affiliates that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.