The Clarion-Ledger, 3/12/9

The attorney for Mayor Frank Melton has asked U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan to reverse a decision he says would result in choosing a jury from an overwhelmingly white pool of candidates.

On Tuesday, Jordan issued an order that the jury for the May 11 retrial of Melton and Michael Recio, the mayor’s former bodyguard, would be drawn solely from the state’s six coastal counties in an attempt to find jurors least affected by media coverage of the first trial. That trial last month ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict.

In his motion, Reeves noted the coastal counties are 15.6 percent African American, while the entire southern judicial district is 41 percent black. Reeves said the jury should be selected from the entire district, as was the case for the first trial, so Melton could be judged by “a constitutionally fair cross section of the community.”

He suggested that failing to do so could be grounds for appeal.