LA Voters May Be Able To Limit Option To Forgo Jury Trials


Louisiana district attorneys are one step away from giving state voters an opportunity to vote on rolling back a criminal defendant’s right to choose a bench trial, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A Senate committee yesterday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would give prosecutors and judges the final say when an accused person asks to forgo a jury.

Should it win the expected approval by the full Senate, the measure would be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot. It is the subject of an intense debate between prosecutors and the criminal defense bar, with the two sides trading arguments about defendants’ constitutional rights to a fair trial, a victim’s right to see justice done, the efficiency of the trial court system and public perceptions about verdicts from juries versus those from a judge. Louisiana is one of 20 states that allow a defendant to choose between a jury and a bench trial. The constitutional amendment would align Louisiana with the remaining 30 states and the federal court system, where a defendant waives a jury trial subject to approval by the prosecutor and the court. Proponents framed the proposed change as a way to underscore the American justice system’s emphasis on trials by jury.

Comments are closed.


You have Free articles left this month.

Want access to all our reporting? Subscribe for unlimited access or login.