Louisiana Supreme Court Opinions
STATE OF LOUISIANA VS. JOSE M. SAGASTUME
Opinion Date: December 8, 2023
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
In this case, the Supreme Court of Louisiana reviewed a conviction for domestic abuse battery involving strangulation. The defendant, Jose Sagastume, was found guilty by a unanimous jury and sentenced to three years imprisonment with two years suspended, followed by two years of probation. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his challenges for cause against two potential jurors: a retired police officer and a former assistant district attorney. However, the defense counsel did not object when the trial court denied these challenges.
The Court of Appeal set aside the conviction, stating that despite the lack of formal objection, the defense counsel's reasons for the challenges and subsequent use of peremptory challenges to remove the jurors were sufficient to preserve the issue for review.
The Supreme Court of Louisiana disagreed, ruling that according to the Code of Criminal Procedure art. 800(A), a defendant must object contemporaneously to a ruling refusing to sustain a challenge for cause in order to assign it as an error on appeal. The court found that the defense counsel's acquiescence without objection did not meet this requirement. Therefore, it reversed the ruling of the Court of Appeal, reinstated the conviction and sentence, and affirmed them. The court emphasized that the legislature's language in Article 800(A) was clear: an objection must be made at the time of the ruling, and the nature and grounds for the objection must be stated at that time.
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