NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Stewart Peck is a local attorney, but he is also a prospective juror this week in Orleans Criminal District Court.
According to Peck, “If you have a criminal justice system… the justice part, we have to be part of the jury as citizens. It’s our duty.”
Monday is the first day that court resumes for the over 900 inmates in pre-trial custody in Orleans Parish Parish. Jury trials were shut down due to the double disasters of Hurricane Ida and the Omicron variant, but it’s not as if nothing was happening at the courthouse.
Robin Pittman, Chief Administrative Judge of Orleans Criminal Court stated, “There are cases where are charged with felonies and they can select trial by judge. There are misdemeanor cases where they’re only entitled to trial by judge.”
And those cases have resumed, both online and in person. The rise in violent crime across the city has shone a light on the entire criminal justice system, and prospective juror Kevin Flot says this is his chance to get involved
“I feel like you can’t complain about something if you don’t do something,” said Flot.
Apparently, there are many others in the community that feel the same.
Judge Pittman stated that today’s number were encouraging, “It is my understanding that we were expecting 158 jurors today and 130 of that number showed up.”
Prospective Juror Danette Thierry stated, “When called upon just do what we have to do. I’m a social studies teacher, so this is a teachable moment for when I do get bat back to work with my students.”
Judge Pittman echoed the sentiments of the entire judiciary urging all citizens to get involved if called upon, “I’m urging members of the community who care about this city to realize how important it is to respond to your jury summons. A defendant in any criminal case has a right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers and in order for the system to work effectively we need those community members to show up.”
Pittman also stated that while the number of people that showed up today was encouraging, 1000 prospective jurors were summoned. 158 qualified and 130 showed up. 600 did not respond and that is why where is now a push to citizens to participate.