BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- District attorneys said they are concerned about a proposal by a New Orleans state senator that would allow jurors in criminal trials to take notes during testimony.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said jurors should be able to jot down testimony and make notes on legal arguments during murder trials and other criminal proceedings. He said constituents who served on recent criminal trials said they could have done a better job had they been handed a notepad at the start of the proceedings.
"I had several constituents who sat on jury trials last year. They said these issues are complex," he said.
The rules on allowing jurors to take notes during a trial vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Louisiana, at the state district court level, only jurors in civil trials can be given writing supplies.
Prosecutors told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/Ad0byC) they have concerns that a juror may take information down incorrectly and others will base deliberations on inaccurate notes. They also say the note-taking could distract jurors from listening to the testimony.
The proposal will be considered in the legislative session that begins March 12.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said he is opposed to the measure.
"Someone may get the advantage, as a juror because they're a good note taker and they may take it down wrong," Moore said.
He said other jurors could rely on the best notetaker's scribblings, rather than on what they heard during the trial. He said he wants jurors to listen and look while the trial is proceeding.
"What you can recollect and can observe from the stand is the best practice," Moore said.
Donaldsonville District Attorney Ricky Babin said he has reservations about Murray's legislation. But he said he is not taking an official position on the legislation just yet.
Senate Bill 5 can be found at www.legis.state.la.us
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com