Friday, November 10, 2023

Exclusion of Jurors Who Have Conscientious Objection To Death Penalty Does Not Violate Free Exercise Clause

 In State of Louisiana v. Neveaux, (LA App., Nov. 8, 2023), a Louisiana state appeals court rejected a free exercise challenge to a provision in the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure that permits the prosecution in a capital case to challenge for cause a juror "who has conscientious scruples against the infliction of capital punishment" and makes it known that for this reason he would automatically vote against imposing capital punishment or that his beliefs would substantially impair him from making an impartial decision. The court, rejecting the contention that there must be a compelling state interest to support this provision concluded in part:

[W]e find that La. C.Cr.P. art. 798(2)(a) and (b) is neutral and generally applicable because (1) it does not focus on a particular religion or religion at all, and (2) it applies to anyone regardless of the source of his or her views on the death penalty.