House panel votes to make it a crime to attend cockfights
BATON ROUGE — A House committee spent less than 10 minutes today debating the merits of a bill that would make it a crime to attend cockfights, unanimously approving the measure and sending it to the full House for debate.
File photoSen. Danny Martiny
If approved, the bill will take effect Aug. 15.
The debate in the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice was low-key, a stark comparison to the emotional debates on bills that have hit the Legislature in recent years to ban gambling on cockfights and staging and promoting them that took hours of testimony.
Martiny’s bill would make it a crime to attend a cockfights, bet on cockfights or “pay admission at any location to view or bet on a cockfight.”
Martiny’s bill provides up to six months in jail or a maximum $500 fine.
He said that although cockfighting was banned three years ago, he received an e-mail last December from a someone who said that his bill would put 1,200 people out of work — on an activity that is supposed to be illegal; now.
He said that there is an arena in Church Point that seats 500 to 750 cockfighting fans for regular rooster fights.
“If it is illegal to stage cockfights, and if it is illegal to wager on cockfights then it should be illegal to participate in cockfights” by attending them, Martiny said.
On another issue, the panel gave unanimous support to Senate Bill 378 by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, to prohibit an underage victim of a crime from being interviewed by attorneys for the defendant when the child or the child’s parents have refused.
Morrell said that the bill is in response to a case in which a defense attorney investigator lured a child away from parents to conduct an interview.
Morrell’s bill said that a minor victim or the victim’s parents can refuse the interview, but if the defendant’s lawyer or investigator tries to get the interview despite the refusal, the individual will be held in contempt of court.
The panel also approved Morrell’s Senate Bill 376 to keep the name of a minor who is the victim of a sex crime from being made public. The victim can be identified by initials or other description but the name cannot be used except during the trial.
If documents have to be filed using the victim’s name, they must be off limits to the public and sealed by the court.
Morrell’s bills have already cleared the Senate and now go the full House for debate.
Ed Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 225.342.5810.