Parish: Orleans

Police Department: Louisiana State Police

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU-LA) represented Executive Director Alanah Odoms in a lawsuit against Louisiana State Police (LSP) for the release of public records regarding its use of racist facial recognition technology after LSP denied requests for the information.

In 2019, Odoms learned that LSP’s Fusion Center was using invasive technology without public knowledge. During a criminal proceeding in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, testimony adduced by a public defender demonstrated that LSP had identified his client by comparing an image to its database using a then-pilot program. During the hearing, an LSP Fusion Center employee testified that he had been working with facial-recognition software for about two years, and the company that created the software program, IDEMIA, had given a two-day training to LSP.

Odoms became concerned that LSP was using invasive technology to surveil the public without its knowledge. The ACLU of Louisiana opposes the expansion of government surveillance and seeks an end to racially-biased, unreliable technologies that amplify racist policing, including facial recognition.

On March 23, 2021, Judge William Morvant of the 19th Judicial District heard Ms. Odoms’ mandamus petition. At the hearing, a witness for LSP testified that LSP receives emails from other law enforcement agencies requesting the use of LSP’s facial recognition software. Ultimately, Judge Morvant refused to allow three exhibits into evidence that showed e-mail communications to and from the LSP’s intelligence unit, known as the “Fusion Center,” about the use of facial recognition technology. More than a year later, on March 3, 2022, the First Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Morvant, holding that the documents at issue did not exist because LSP averred as much. 

On April 1, 2022, the ACLU of Louisiana filed its application for writ of certiorari to appeal the matter to the Louisiana Supreme Court. On May 24, 2022, the Louisiana Supreme Court  exercised its discretionary authority to deny the writ, leaving the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling intact. However, two of the seven Louisiana Supreme Court justices, Justice Griffin and Justice Crichton, would have granted the writ.

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