La. Supreme Court calls for hearing in murder case due to lack of young people in jury pool

La. Supreme Court calls for hearing in murder case due to lack of young people in jury pool
(Source: WAFF)

(WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has called for a hearing by a state judge in the murder trial of Grover Cannon, who is accused of shooting and killing a police officer, to address why no one under the age of 26 was summoned to serves as a juror in the case.

Cannon is accused of killing Shreveport Police Officer Thomas LaValley, who is originally from St. Amant, back in 2015. Jurors are being selected in East Baton Rouge Parish despite the incident occurring in Caddo Parish due to how well known the case is in that area.

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Grover Cannon jury selection

The state supreme court has ordered Judge Ramona Emanuel to conduct a hearing after defense attorneys for Cannon claimed of the 566 people summoned for the trial, none of them are under 26-years-old.

“What happened is, when we noticed of the 600 people that came to court, or it was almost 600 people, came to court for our venire, we didn’t see anyone that looked to be under the age of 25 or 30, which made us look more closely at the records that we get from the clerk of court’s office, or the judicial administrative office,” said Kerry Cuccia, director of the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana.

The motion specifically says of the 65,534 people age 18 to 25 eligible for jury duty in East Baton Rouge Parish (as of the 2010 Census), not a single person under age 26 was called to serve.

The motion cites a specific case about the right to a fair and impartial jury.

“Tendencies, no matter how slight, toward the selection of jurors by any method other than a process which will ensure a trial by a representative group are undermining processes weakening the institution of jury trial, and should be sturdily resisted.”
Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 86 (1942)

“The jury selection process itself must be designed to such that a fair cross-section of the community is included and possibly could be selected. We believe that the elimination of people born after June 2, 1993 violates that, and makes this whole group constitutionally infirm in relation to fair cross section,” said Cuccia.

Cuccia says East Baton Rouge Parish has a pattern of not selecting young people for juries.

“We then went and looked back into some other cases where people had done some research, got a hold of the documents that had been produced by East Baton Rouge Parish regarding the jury venire and the way the jury venire is selected,” Cuccia said. “It appears that no one past the age, past the birthday of June 2, 1993, was in the jury venires for 2014 to 2018.”

Judge Emanuel initially ruled the defense was too late in filing a motion about the age of jurors, saying the motion should’ve been filed before jury selection began. Cannon’s defense team then appealed the decision, which was denied. A stay on the case has not been issued, but the state supreme court has called for Judge Emanuel to conduct a hearing on the issue.

The hearing is scheduled to be held Tuesday, April 9. The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on the issue, only saying a hearing would be held.

Click here to read the full motion for the hearing.

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