SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT,
PARISH OF CADDO
defendant was indicted for the capital murder of a police
officer in Caddo Parish. Pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. arts. 621,
622, and 623.1, the trial court transferred venue to East
Baton Rouge for a jury to be selected. As further provided by
La. C.Cr.P. art. 623.1, the venue order from the Caddo Parish
district court provided that, after a jury had been selected
by the East Baton Rouge Parish district court, the jurors
would travel to Caddo Parish for the trial.
court quashed a jury venire in East Baton Rouge Parish after
it had been discovered that "persons born after June 2,
1993, otherwise qualified to serve on the jury, were never
given an opportunity to serve because their names were
excluded from the general venire as a result of a significant
error in the process by which the general venire was
composed." State v. Cannon, 2019-0590, p. 1
(La. 4/18/19), 267 So.3d 585. We remanded the case with
instructions "that a petit jury … be chosen from
a general venire that is selected according to law."
days after the remand instruction from this court, the state
asked the Caddo Parish court to rescind its decision to
transfer jury selection venue to the East Baton Rouge court.
In support of its request for a "reconsideration"
of venue, the state explained that "publicity was
attenuated by the passage of time as it has been
approximately three years and nine months" since the
alleged murder at issue. The state also urged that "the
passage of time has attenuated any effect" caused by
publicity about the subsequent homicide of another police
officer in Caddo Parish. The Caddo Parish court granted the
state's request and ordered that venue for jury selection
be transferred from East Baton Rouge Parish back to Caddo
the state failed to justify a transfer of jury selection
venue from East Baton Rouge Parish back to Caddo Parish. The
legislature intended a venue change to be difficult to obtain
in the first instance: "Although all American
jurisdictions contain change of venue statutes, the tests
provided are in most cases not as strongly worded as in this
article … ." Cmt (a) to La. C.Cr.P. art. 622.
Logically, it follows that once a case has met a difficult
standard to transfer venue, returning to an earlier venue
should be at least as difficult to obtain and not something
susceptible to a mere "reconsideration" of earlier
facts. See State v. Mejia, 197 So.2d 73, 76
(La. 1967) (finding that captioning a pleading as a
"Motion for Rehearing" of a venue transfer
"did not alter its real character, which was a motion
for a second change of venue.").
the legislature long ago removed a statutory restriction
against a second transfer of venue. See La. Acts
1966 No. 310, Title XX, cmt. (c) to La. C.Cr.P. art. 623
(inter alia repealing former La. C.Cr.P. art. 294 of
1928). The required procedure, therefore, for
obtaining another transfer of venue is the same as the first
transfer, i.e., filing a motion pursuant to La.
C.Cr.P. art. 621 ("A motion for a change of venue may be
filed by either the state or the defendant.") and
proving the grounds for transfer described in La. C.Cr.P.
art. 622 ("A change of venue shall be granted when
… a fair and impartial trial cannot be obtained in the
parish … .").
with the legislative changes just described, in State v.
Carlock, 345 So.2d 892, 895 (La.1977), we noted a second
motion for change of venue or appellate review of the ruling
transferring the case from the original venue are the only
procedures available when the state desires a transfer to an
original venue. The defendant had been indicted in Calcasieu
Parish, and the trial court there granted the defendant's
motion for a change of venue and ordered the case transferred
to Jefferson Parish. Id. at 893. Thereafter, the
state nolle prossed (i.e., dismissed) the
indictments, but filed charges for the same alleged criminal
incident again in Calcasieu Parish. Id. When the
defendant moved for speedy trial in Jefferson Parish, the
court there opined it could not try the matter because it had
been divested of jurisdiction with the dismissal of the
indictments. Id. Citing the constitutional guarantee
of an impartial jury and finding the state had neither sought
supervisory review nor filed a motion for transfer of venue
from Jefferson Parish to Calcasieu Parish, this court
nullified the state's nolle prosequi of the
indictments and remanded the case to the Jefferson Parish
court for further proceedings. Id. at 895-96.
the Caddo Parish trial court ordered another transfer of jury
selection venue without adhering to the filing and proof
requirements of La. C.Cr.P. arts. 621 and 622. A review of
the state's motion for reconsideration and the transcript
of the trial court's hearing revealed that the state
relied entirely on urging that Caddo Parish had become an
acceptable venue. What was instead required, but was absent
here, was proving that East Baton Rouge Parish was an
unacceptable venue. Moreover, the state's present
position contradicts its position just weeks earlier, in
which the state vigorously urged this court that the jury
must be drawn from East Baton Rouge Parish where, according
to the state, "there was absolutely no evidence that
Defendant/Applicant would be deprived of an impartial jury.
There is no basis for quashing the petit jury venire [in East
Baton Rouge Parish] and abandoning the jury-selection process
in Defendant/Applicant's trial."
matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with
Crichton, J., dissents and would deny the writ.
the circumstances presented, I would find that this
accomplished trial judge did not abuse her vast discretion
here. See State v. ...