A bill in the Louisiana Legislature seeks to limit public knowledge of jury questionnaires. Fortunately, a Senate committee suggested that the language of Senate Bill 353 by Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport, was too broad.
Caddo District Court Judge Brady O’Callaghan told senators that the legislation will shield from the public personal information prospective jurors share on questionnaires.
O’Callaghan said jurors are concerned personal information such as medical problems, religious preference, whether they have been a victim of crime or whether a relative has committed a crime would become public.
That intent, though seemingly harmless, was an excuse for a public records exemption for “any records or other information pertaining to selection or service of any grand or petite jury and any personal information of any citizen called for service.” That basically means a secret jury in public trials. The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee rightly balked at that broad language.
Before lawmakers start tinkering with the public records law, ceaselessly under attack by public officials at the state and local levels, should there not be some evidence that there is a problem with existing law?