In Hamilton v. Winder, 2006-0994 (La. 6/16/06), 2006 WL 1669429, the Louisiana Supreme Court held that the district court had the power under LSA-C.C.P. art. 1631(A) to “bump” a consistently tardy juror in the middle of trial and replace him with an alternate. Although Article 1769 states that “Alternate jurors…shall replace jurors who…become unable or disqualified to perform their duties,” the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not have to determine that the sluggish juror in question was either “unable” or “disqualified” to perform his duties.
In fact, it is evident from the decision that he was still “able to serve,” because after showing up late post-eviction, he had to cool his heels in a back room somewhere – just so the remaining jurors wouldn’t “get the idea that if they just don’t show up, they’ll be shipped off the jury and go home.”
As noted above, the Supreme Court found the authority to make the substitution in the trial court’s general power under LSA-C.C.P. art. 1631(A) to “require that the proceedings shall be conducted with dignity and in an orderly and expeditious manner, and to control the proceedings at the trial, so that justice is done.”