Bill calls for keeping jurors names secret

The American Press

Secret JuryAmerican Press composite

<p class="indent">Should the names of jurors in Louisiana criminal trials be public records? Legislation making its way through the current session would make it harder to determine how jurors voted in those trials.

<p class="indent">House Bill 699 by Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, has advocates for press freedom concerned because of the existing 10-2 split jury voting system in Louisiana. Another measure by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, Senate Bill 243, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would let the state’s voters decide whether to require unanimous juries in felony trials.

<p class="indent">Stagni’s measure passed the House 94-0 and 28-0 in the Senate after being amended by the upper chamber. It must now be either concurred in or rejected by the House and sent to a conference committee to try and settle the differences.

<p class="indent">Jee Park, an attorney with the Innocence Project New Orleans, called the Stagni bill troublesome for the rights of defendants convicted by 10-2 juries.

<p class="indent">Park said, “One of the foundations of our system is that criminal trials are public trials where community members decide a defendant’s fate in the open. This will prevent defendants from uncovering racial bias and other misconduct that occurs during jury deliberations that may have led to convicting an innocent person.”

<p class="indent">Scott Sternberg, an attorney for the Louisiana Press Association and The Advocate, said reporters and citizens need to know how a juror voted, particularly with the state’s current 10-2 decisions.

<p class="indent">An analysis done by The Advocate found that Louisiana’s non-unanimous verdict law disadvantages black defendants more than white ones. It added the system also silences the voices of black jurors, who are more prone than white jurors to dissent from the majority.

<p class="indent">Morrell’s legislation cleared the Senate 27-10, one vote more than the 26 (two-thirds) required for proposed amendments. It has cleared two House committees with unanimous votes and is scheduled for House floor debate on Friday.

<p class="indent">If the Morrell bill passes the House, voters will make the final decision Nov. 6. Approval on that date wouldn’t make Stagni’s measure a major cause for concern because the jury decisions would have to be unanimous. However, as long as 10-2 jury decisions are allowed in criminal cases, it poses problems.

life

Monica Smith’s teaching career began with Tiny Steps

Local News

Pro Watercross: National championships return to LC this weekend

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:What’s latest on our voting?

Crime

LaGrange student arrested for bringing gun to school

life

Mom’s school lunches look complicated, but they’re not

Local News

Entergy customers will pay $3.2 billion to reimburse company for repair costs

Local News

United Way to open Entergy Utility Assistance Program Wednesday

Local News

Low potential for tropical cyclone development in southwest Gulf

Crime

8/16: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Elton water services to be shut off at 4 p.m. today

Crime

Sheriff: Teenager shot during Kinder back-to-school party

Crime

8/15: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Crime

LC man charged in Saturday shooting

Local News

Feds oppose unsealing affidavit for Mar-a-Lago warrant

Crime

BREAKING: Mother charged with murder after 6-month-old left in car five hours

Local News

LAPAW in dire need of fosters, donations

Local News

Voting machine debate: Conspiracies question integrity of elections

Local News

Heart for volunteerism at core of Care Help for 40 years

Local News

Impairment, speed suspected in fatal crash

Crime

8/14: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

life

SW La. school lunch menus Aug. 15-19

Local News

Texas man dies when Peterbilt crashes

Business

Business, industry thought leaders George Swift and Daniel Groft optimistic about future of SW La.

Informer

The Informer: Mowing pad being created for cable barrier along I-210