Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Judge Pulls Jurors Off the Street

 You read the headline correctly.  A Baton Rouge judge literally pulled people off the street after he ran out of jurors.  The Morning Advocate reported: 

Rebecca Smith was walking downtown to work just before 8 a.m. Wednesday and noticed a crowd of people outside Starbucks — along with two East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office deputies.

Worried that something bad had happened, Smith began walking toward the group. As she approached, a deputy began asking her if she was from East Baton Rouge and if she had any felonies.

When she answered yes to the former and no to the latter, Smith said the deputy said "we've got another" and told her to come with them.

Sorry, girlfriend, but you should know to walk away from cops and a crowd instead of towards them.   Pulling jurors off the street is legal in Louisiana as Ms. Smith discovered. 

Smith was one of five people who were summoned off the street to serve jury duty Wednesday. It's part of a rarely-used law that lets judges call "tales jurors," which only happens when there aren't enough jurors for a case to proceed.

While some tales jurors were released within hours of summoning, two were asked to remain for the rest of the trial, including Smith.

The judge provided some explanation to the media: 

The trial judge, state District Judge Chip Moore, said it is entirely legal.

State law — La. R.S. 13:3048 — states that, "Nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to limit the right of the judge in civil cases …. after the list of regular jurors is exhausted…. to order the summoning of talesman from among the bystanders or persons in proximity to the court house, or from any portion of the parish, which the judge may designate.”

Moore confirmed Monday that a combination of factors — including the inclement weather and the inadvertent sending-home last Monday of some members of the jury pool — forced the court to utilize the seldom-used "tales jurors" law in order to fill out the 12-person jury, and select an alternate juror.

"I think they got four or five off the street," he said during an interview in his 19th Judicial District Court office. "I hate to do that to people, but what are you going to do, start over?" Article.

 Tales jurors have been used only three times since 2003.  Although the jurors were probably not happy about being drafted, the plaintiff was probably ecstatic.  She won a $1.9 million verdict in a rear-end collision case.


Anonymous said...

Leave it to Louisiana. This is a relic of the bygone plantation era which like so many aspects of Louisiana culture remain unchanged since the rest of the country marches to a different legal beat. The rest of the country does not pretend to understand the Louisiana civil law and Louisiana does not pretend to want to change. Actually it's entertaining if you're not involved.

Anonymous said...

I think in general Pine and Urban have done a good character faithful job of Kirk v. Bones.

Anonymous said...

The sort of story that makes JJ the most unique web property in all of Mississippi. Thanks KF.

Anonymous said...

Does MS have this law in place? Maybe we should use it! Lol

Anonymous said...

I grew up watching Star Trek: TNG and I hated Star Trek: The Motion Picture as a kid. But it has aged very well.

Anonymous said...


Yes, we do

Anonymous said...

This is also the law in Kalifornia. Except there the challenge is finding people who speak English and aren't "undocumented."

Anonymous said...

its an impossible stretch to glean a hint of racism from that practice but 10:25 does. and his vote cancels mine. democracy has failed

Anonymous said...

12:31 Sorry, but it is only you who raise the issue of racism in the practice of an old law which remains unchanged probably because it HAS NOT been used recently in a racist fashion. Louisiana law based on the Napoleonic Code has many interesting old nuances but being old does not necessarily mean racist. If I thought it was racist I would not hint, I would say so.


Anonymous said...

10:25- Always interesting to hear the comments of the ignorant on the law of Louisiana. The system which governs much, but certainly not all, of Louisiana Law is a very sophisticated legal tradition which predates common law by several centuries, and from which common law has often borrowed (things like warranty, good faith in contracts, etc.) The law is actually far less different in both substance and result than often assumed, but where it is different, it is certainly not less sophisticated or less modern than the common law, in many cases, actually it may be more advanced. Just because you are unfamiliar with it doesn't make it good or bad. Louisiana hasn't wanted to change because the system is actually a very good one. Oh, and the jury system was borrowed by Louisiana from the common law, including the law involved in this instance. I could go into more detail, but you should get the picture that your assumptions are ill-founded and incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I’m pretty sure this is from a bygone era where hanging judges ran a courtroom. Bag em and tag em yer honor!!

Anonymous said...

2:24 Some people get great pleasure out of calling others ignorant when they think they know something others MIGHT not. That is sad. I lived part of my life in Louisiana and I am quite familiar with the Civil Law tradition and it's rich history even relating back to the Justinian Code and Roman law. I do not presume to belittle your knowledge simply because I dare respond to your original comment. I would hope that you would not be so presumptuous about mine. How you discern my "assumptions" is truly miraculous and a rare talent you ought to keep hidden. I still find Louisiana interesting and sometimes entertaining in it's contrast to other states. Thank you.


Judge Boudreaux Bean Sez said...

Thibodeaux! You on da jury, coullion! Pshaw!

Anonymous said...

I am little surprised at your taking umbrage at my earlier remarks. After all your "leave it to Louisiana," "relic of the past," and that "Louisiana does not pretend to want to change" certainly don't seem to be particularly positive remarks and clearly imply a backwardness in the not just the specific law at issue, but the entire legal system. We are all ignorant of many things that others know about. It is only a problem when we make pronouncements about others' circumstances of which we are ignorant. You made comments that clearly implied some understanding that not wanting to change was based on some backwardness on the part of the state. One can only discern assumptions from what is said. Your choice of words and remarks created an impression that your intent was to imply a certain backwardness. If I mistook your intent, perhaps you should be more careful in conveying your thoughts instead of using language that most would take as intending some disparagement. My intent was to correct the impression that you created by your own choice of words as reasonably understood.

Anonymous said...

Love the Star Trek clip. Back when acting was OVER dramatized.

Anonymous said...

10:04 wordy, wordy, but correct.

Anonymous said...

they can pull jurors off the street in Texas too. Saw it happen first-hand in downtown Houston back in the 80's.

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