Judge puts gag order on gun case

A New Orleans judge has forbidden police and prosecutors from talking about a case involving Akein Scott, one of two brothers accused of gunning down 19 people at a Mother’s Day second-line parade on May 12. One other person was trampled

Before he allegedly opened fire on the crowd, Scott was awaiting trial before Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter on a charge of being in possession of a gun while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

He was let out of jail on a $15,000 bond, a detail roundly criticized in the wake of the shooting spree.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro blasted the judge for not catching the low bond, though prosecutors did not request a higher one be set.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has long called for high bonds on gun crimes, described the $15,000 bond as “a mistake.”

Hunter highlighted Cannizzaro’s critical quote in a news story that he attached to his gag order. He also highlighted several other passages, including Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas’ announcement that the brothers were involved in a 7th Ward gang, and other details of the Mother’s Day incident available in public court records that would not be subject to the gag order.

The order, which expressly prohibits prosecuting and defense attorneys, police officers, witnesses, family members and friends of the victims or defendants from speaking of the case, has legal bearing only on the case before Hunter, in which Akein Scott is charged with a gun crime for allegedly being caught in March outside a 7th Ward corner store with heroin and a handgun with an extended clip.

It does not apply to the Mother’s Day shooting case.

Akein Scott and his brother, Shawn Scott, are both being held on 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder. Those cases remain pending in magistrate court, and have yet to be charged and assigned to any criminal court judge.

But Hunter on Tuesday told the court that any statements officials made about that case would have consequences on Scott’s lesser case, and the court’s ability to empanel an impartial jury to hear it.

Tuesday’s hearing before Hunter was requested by prosecutors, who asked that the judge raise the initial $15,000 bond.

They cited his three-day run from the law and subsequent booking as evidence of his penchant for violence and likeliness to flee.

Hunter granted the request and upped Akein Scott’s bond to $250,000.

That will be added on top of the $10 million bond both he and his brother face on the attempted murder charges.

Shawn Scott is expected back in magistrate court later this week.