Criminal justice advocate no longer banned from Victoria County courthouse after posting TikTok

VICTORIA, Texas – A criminal justice advocate is no longer banned from Victoria County Courthouse after posting a TikTok video in one of the courtrooms.

Anna Harris, Executive Director of JUST-US Participatory Defense, filmed a TikTok video in one of the two administrative courtrooms on the third floor of the county courthouse. These courtrooms are commonly used by lawyers to speak to their clients when they’re in custody and are often opened for the public to view.

In the 15-second TikTok video, Harris, is seen walking and getting on top of the desk area where a judge would sit and starts dancing to a song while the courtroom was not in use.

Harris and her lawyers say the video was harmless and that the criminal trespass warning goes against her first amendment rights.

“They said, we’re issuing you a criminal trespass warning for the courthouse and I was like, that’s comical,” says Harris.

“The judge with a document signed by a representative of the Sheriff’s Office thinks they can barr her for life from ever entering any of these county buildings, that is extraordinary. As I mentioned, we are first amendment lawyers, this is about as obvious of a first amendment violation as there can be,” says Jason Harrow, Gerstein-Harrow LLP Lawyer.

District Judge, Eli Garza, was shown the video by a staff member and signed a criminal trespass warning barring Harris from entering Victoria County facilities such as the courthouse, sheriff’s office and the bridge street annex. Garza says the video was inappropriate and that Harris was causing issues in a trial last week where she would make faces and mouthed words in the direction of the jury.

Today, Harris and her lawyers filed a federal lawsuit against the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office and soon after, both offices responded saying they will no longer arrest Harris for entering any of the county buildings.