The judges of the 16th Judicial District Court, the St. Martin Parish Clerk of Court, and the Jury management staff welcome and congratulate you as a fellow participant in the administration of justice.
You are now involved in the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers, a cornerstone of American justice. By serving as a juror, you will be a judge and you will assist in perpetuating a system that is fair and provides the same opportunity to all American citizens.
Efforts have been made to expedite the cases set for trial during your jury service; however, many matters must be disposed of before the jury is called. Witnesses may need to be located, motions may be filed by attorneys, and a myriad of other things may happen which require some delay before the jury panel may be summoned to the courtroom.
These circumstances may cause you to wait for extended periods of time. The judges request your patience and assure you that all will be done to make your jury service as short and efficient as possible.
Judges & Officials of The 16th Judicial District Court
•Division A Judge Anthony Thibodeaux
•Division B Judge Suzanne deMahy
•Division C Judge Vincent J. Borne
•Division D Judge Lewis H. Pitman, Jr.
•Division E Judge Keith Comeaux
•Division F Judge Anthony J. Saleme, Jr.
•Division G Judge Curtis Sigur
•Division H Judge Roger P. Hamilton, Jr.
•Court Administrator Angela Moore
•Clerk of Court Honorable Becky P. Patin
How Jurors are Selected
The names of all licensed drivers and registered voters of St. Martin Parish are placed into the Clerk of Court computer. The computer first eliminates duplicate names, and then uses random selection to select the names of people who will receive a subpoena for jury duty.
Louisiana law provides that certain qualifications must be met in order for a person to be eligible to serve on a jury. These requirements are that a prospective juror:
•Must be a citizen of the United States and Louisiana, and must have resided in St. Martin parish for at least one year before service.
•Must be at least eighteen years of age;
•Must be able to read, write and speak the English language;
•Must not have a mental or physical infirmity which makes service impossible;
•Must not be under indictment for a felony, nor convicted of a felony for which he/she has not been pardoned
If you do not meet all of these requirements, contact the office of the Judge to be excused.
Also, if jury service would result in undue or extreme inconvenience or hardship, you may contact the office of the Judge to request a postponement or excuse.
Effective April 28, 1994, the Louisiana Supreme Court has amended its rules so as to effectively eliminate all group and occupational exemptions from jury service. Persons who may claim an exemption from jury service are:
•Persons who have served on a jury in the 16th Judicial District within the last two years.
•Persons who are 70 years of age or older.
If you are in either of these categories, you may claim an exemption from jury service; however, if you wish to serve, you may do so. If you do elect to claim one of these exemptions, the Clerk of Court will assist you in presenting the necessary proof.
Your Role as a Juror
You are to report to the St. Martin Parish Courthouse at the time and date stated on your subpoena. You will report to the Jury Pool Room located on the first floor of the Courthouse.
The assigned Judge will determine if you are qualified to serve on the jury.
After that determination is made, all potential jurors may be asked to wait in the old Police Jury room, also located on the second floor of the Courthouse.
The Judge will then question prospective jurors. You must not leave this area.
When you are sent to the courtroom, you are asked to conduct yourself in a respectful manner. You should be alert, courteous and honest about your feelings and opinions on issues.
Should you be selected as juror, it is imperative that you are attentive at all times. The Judge presiding over that court will give instructions and orders that you must follow.
If you have any problem (such as not being able to hear a witness), have an urgent question or request, you may ask the Bailiff to notify the Judge, who will then handle your request.
After you have heard all the evidence and each attorney has summed up his case, the Judge will instruct you on the law that applies to the facts you will consider. You will then be escorted to the Jury Deliberation Room where you and your fellow jurors will deliberate.
The Judge will tell you the names of the parties, the lawyers who will represent each, and the nature of the legal action.
You will then be questioned by the attorneys and court to insure that you can be impartial and objective about the issues in the case. This is called Voir Dire. Each attorney may challenge "for cause." This means that for some reason (your occupation, your opinion on certain issues, your knowledge of the case, etc.), it might be unfair to ask you to be impartial in the case at hand, and the Judge may excuse you from service in this particular trial.
Each attorney also is allowed by law a limited number of "preemptory challenges". This means the attorney may ask the court to excuse some prospective jurors without stating any reason. (If you are challenged, please keep in mind that this request is not on a personal. The attorney is merely using a right given to his client by law).
At the end of the Voir Dire a number of people will be seated to form the Jury, and the trial begins. (In some cases it may be a "six-man" jury, in others it may be a "twelve-man" jury).
Sequence of Trial
The plaintiff's attorney (in civil cases) or the District Attorney (in criminal cases) will make an opening statement telling you what he intends to prove. The attorney for the defense may also make an opening statement.
After the opening statements, the side bringing the suit, (i.e., the plaintiff or the D.A.), will present its evidence with witnesses, documents or other exhibits. Then the other side will be afforded the opportunity to.
When one party is through questioning one witness, the other attorney may cross-examine. There are special rules of law governing what may be asked of a witness, how the witness may respond, and what the Jury may properly consider as evidence. From time to time, an attorney may "object" to some testimony or procedure. The Judge may ask the lawyers to approach the bench to discuss the matter, or you may be taken to the jury deliberation room so that it may be debated outside your hearing. In either case, the Judge will rule on all questions of law, and will tell you how the law requires you to treat a particular situation.
When both sides have presented their evidence and defenses, each attorney will sum up his case. He tells what he believes the evidence shows and why it favors his side. Of course these presentations by the lawyers are not evidence.
After the closing arguments, the judge will instruct you on your duties as a juror. He will also instruct you as to the law in this particular case, what verdicts can be rendered and the consequences of each verdict. You and your fellow jurors will then be escorted to the Jury Room for deliberation.
At this time, you will select one juror to be your foreman. This person will preside over your deliberating, and will bring the verdict into court.
In many cases one of the parties will ask, or the Court will order, the Jury be polled. This means the court will ask each juror individually if this is his or her own verdict. The Judge may order their verdict to be in open court or on a secret ballot viewed by the Judge and attorneys. Thereafter, the Clerk of Court is ordered to seal the ballots in the records.
The judge presiding over the case will then thank you and dismiss you.