22nd Judicial DA Warren Montgomery wants to move Jack Strain’s trial on sex crime charges somewhere other than the parish where he was sheriff for 20 years. But Strain, the former St. Tammany Parish sheriff, apparently would prefer the group who will consider his guilt or innocence to be local.
In a reversal of normal procedure, the DA’s office filed a motion Thursday for a change of venue, which would move the trial to another location.
The judge, who was appointed to hear the case after the entire 22nd Judicial District bench recused itself, said he plans to empanel a jury for a hearing on the change of venue request. After a brief discussion on the 22nd Judicial District’s procedures for getting a jury, including the size of the jury pool, it was suggested that a 50- or 60-person pool would provide an adequate cross-section of the parish. Then a jury would be selected and jurors will be asked a narrow field of questions to help determine whether a trial jury can eventually be found that would be fair to both sides.
Strain appeared in court Thursday but did not speak. He was arraigned on the eight-count indictment in August and pleaded not guilty. Since then, he has been indicted in federal court in a 16-count public corruption case involving an alleged kickback scheme at a work-release program that he privatized while he was sheriff.
The 22nd Judicial District comprises St. Tammany and Washington parishes.