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State of Louisiana v. Shawna Peters 7/21/11 QUESTION PRESENTED Under Louisiana Code of Criminal Article 122.

, can this court grant a change of venue to Shawna when the local news media publicized information from her Facebook profile in the couple of weeks before the trial? BRIEF ANSWER No, the Court should not grant a change of venue due to the insufficient amount of evidence proving an extreme amount of prejudice or influence of the public towards Shawna.

STATEMENT OF FACTS The District Attorneys office represents the State of Louisiana in this case and wants to analyze the merits of opposing counsels Motion for Change of Venue. We request that the Motion for Change of Venue be denied, and the trial against Shawna Peters for felony disorderly conduct and conspiracy be held in its original jurisdiction, Jeena. Shawna Peters is a white female and civil rights activist who traveled to Jeena, Louisiana to organize protests against the police shooting of an unarmed, African American Male. Shawna previously organized student groups to protest incidents of racial injustice, and has recorded these protests through use Facebook photo albums and wall posts. Jeena is a highly segregated

community and has a majority white population. Residents of Jeena have shown a general prejudice against African Americans in its past. Shawnas intent in traveling to the town of Jeena was to expose the racial injustices of the police department and members of the town to the national public. The first protest in the town commenced at the Jeena Police Department. There the protesters along with Shawna were asked to disperse from the premises. Shawna refused, and was then arrested and arraigned of felony disorderly conduct and conspiracy. Shawnas Facebook profile had been used by the media to show Shawnas previous protests in her own town. Not only were the pictures of Shawnas peaceful demonstrations publicized, but also the posts of radical activists who supported violent measures. STANDARD OF REVIEW Any party by contradictory motion may obtain a change of venue upon proof that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial because of the undue influence of an adverse party, prejudice existing in the public mind, or some other sufficient cause. If the motion is granted, the action shall be transferred to a parish wherein no party is domiciled. C.Cr.P.Art.122. Previous courts have looked to the following factors in determining whether prejudice exists in a community. (1) The size and characteristics of the community in which the alleged crime occurred; (2) the nature of the news stories regarding the defendant and the crime, i.e., whether such coverage was so blatantly prejudicial or contained other compromising information such as an improper/disavowed confession of the defendant; and (3) the length of time between the alleged crime and the trial itself.FN1 United States v. Bowen, 2011 WL 1979949 (E.D.La.).

FN1. The fourth factor: The jurys ultimate treatment of the defendant at trial, i.e., the jurys consideration of each count in determining guilt or innocence. Id. Due to the fact that the case has not yet gone to trial, the fourth factor stands to be irrelevant to this case. DISCUSSION In review of the size and characteristics of the community in which the alleged crime occurred, the court should consider the population of the town. Id. Lack of statistics of the towns population, its classification as an urban, suburb, or rural area, and the number of citizens with internet, cable, or telephone services prohibits a determination of whether the majority of the town knew of Shawna Peters. In Johnson v. Beto, the court makes clear that where racial feeling may be strong, the voir dire, let alone group examination to which this defendant was restricted, can hardly be expected to reveal shades of prejudice that may influence a verdict. 337 F.Supp.1371 (1972). The court should remember that the phrase racial feeling in the context of the courts dicta points to a feeling directed to an opposite race, not to a person of the same race. In Johnson the defendant was an African American who appeared in the local news often due to his role as a black militant leader. The defendant was tried in a location with a largely white population; therefore the courts statement holds merit in the scenario of the Johnson case. Id. The Court should note that due to Shawnas ethnicity being the same as the majority population of the town, she will unlikely be subject to a strong racial feeling as applied in Johnson. In looking to the second factor presented in United States v. Bowen, the nature of the news stories regarding the defendant and the crime, i.e., whether such coverage was so blatantly prejudicial, the court should ask the question of whether the coverage was blatantly

prejudicial. Bowen, 2011 WL 1979949 at [page 2]. In determining whether coverage was blatantly prejudicial, the Bowen court considered the pieces of evidence needed to be presented: the subscription rate of cable TV homes in the parishes of the Eastern District of Louisiana for this premium channel; the viewer ratings of this particular program within either the metropolitan New Orleans area, or the entirety of the Eastern District of Louisiana; and how references to Danziger in the TV show are prejudicial to the defendants in this case. Id. Under Bowen, The facts offered in this case do not provide the court with enough evidence to find blatant prejudice. As the court reviews the final factor, the length of time between the alleged crime and the trial itself, Id, they should remember the fact that the time between the arrest and the trial of the defendant has only been approximately two weeks. The short period of two weeks does not allow the local media to instill notions of extreme prejudice. In Johnson, the court stated we are in accord with the view that where publicity prior to and during a trial is neither inherently prejudicial nor unusually extensive, the accused must assume the traditional burden and show actual jury prejudice, 337 F.Supp.1371. The defendant in Johnson participated in widely publicized, racially oriented activities associated with black militants from 1967 until his arrest in 1968, causing a prejudice in the community. Whereas the time from the alleged crime and the trial in Shawna Peters case has only been approximately two weeks compared to a whole year. No inherent prejudice existed due to the fact that the defendant and the majority of the town are of the same race, and due to the short time between the arrest and trial there could not have been an unusually extensive amount of prejudice.

CONCLUSION A motion for a change of venue is granted when the defendant cannot receive a fair and impartial verdict. In order to prove this, the defense has the burden of proving that the public is prejudiced against its client. With the short span of time for local media to publicize information about Shawna and the lack of evidence with regards to the nature of the news media, an unusual and extensive prejudice against the defendant cannot be proved by the defense. Without the proof of extreme prejudice that would taint the results of a jury, the defenses motion holds no merit. Shawna should assume the traditional burden of an accused criminal and be tried in the original jurisdiction of the crime committed. Respectfully Submitted, Justin DiCharia Justin Andrew DiCharia LSBA/JTBF Legal Institute Peer Mentor