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Potential Louisiana constitutional amendment would limit accused's option to forgo jury trials

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May 27, 2010

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: A Louisianan House Bill, 940, has succeeded in passing through the House and is now off to the Senate where it must garner 26 out of 39 votes in order to be approved for a statewide vote in November. This bill seeks to amend the state constitution so that a judge or prosecutor in a case would have the final say on if a accused person wants to forgo a trial by jury. Louisiana is one of 20 states that allow an accused person to choose between a jury or a bench trial. Both sides, prosecutors and the criminal defense bar, have been arguing about criminal rights and how effective the justice system is in giving fair trials in both situations. Opponents state that taking away a criminal's right to choose defeats one of the fundamental institutions of the American justice system, a fair jury trial by ones peers. Proponents say that no rights are taken away, the amendment would just give the other side a voice on the opinion as well.[1]

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