NEW ORLEANS — A lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s new law setting the minimum age for strippers at 21 has seen a judge rejecting lawyers' arguments to look into a police report on the death of a 19-year-old stripper.
This is one of the latest developments in a lawsuit that was filed in September by three dancers — ages 18, 19, and 20 — who are fighting the new age state law with the stated aim of protecting young women from human trafficking.
However, state lawyers are arguing that the police report on the death of Bourbon Street dancer Jasilas Wright could help reinforce their arguments for the law. According to a report from KPEL, the lawyers noted allegations that Wright was a prostitute who was suspected of being killed by her pimp. U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby rejected a motion to turn a police report over on the still-open investigation.
A report from NOLA.com said that the state faces a problem relating to the use of the police report in the case. At present, it is still considered a confidential report as Adam Littleton, who has been charged with second-degree murder in Wright’s death, is not due to go on trial until March.
The New Orleans Advocate reported that lawyers defending the law argued that the state should subpoena the state-police report, and that the judge could privately review it. However, this has raised objections from the attorney representing the three dancers who are challenging the law's constitutionality.
In a Nov. 7 filing from the dancers' attorney, they claim that the police report is “an extraneous document” that was not reviewed by the Legislature when the new age law was passed. Furthermore, a private review would remove any chance for the dancers' attorneys to challenge the report's admissibility.
Initially, the three plaintiffs were fighting to have the case heard in New Orleans after the state’s alcohol-control commissioner wanted the case to move to the Baton Rouge-based federal district court, which is where the law was passed last summer. This motion was rejected in November by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, according to a report by New Orleans City Business. Subsequently, since the challenge to the new state law, an attorney for the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has been temporarily blocked from enforcing the age law.
The three women, who are challenging the new age limit, say that it violates their right to free expression and discriminates based on age and gender. They also say that young women who lose their jobs and income because of the new law might be drawn into prostitution.
In a separate report from NOLA.com, Littleton is suspected of Wright’s death along Interstate 10. The report stated that police said she was kidnapped near Stiletto’s Gentleman’s Club, where she worked. The report added that her death occurred after she left the vehicle he was driving and was struck by passing cars. Littleton has been alleged to be Wright's boyfriend and pimp.