Jury selection in the first degree murder trial of Christopher Cope trial, which began at 2:15 p.m. Monday, was suspended around 6 p.m., after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued an "emergency stay."
Attorneys for Cope, who is on trial for the Oct. 24, 2010 killing of SPD Sgt. Tim Prunty outside a convenience store in south Shreveport, objected to a change in presiding judges.
Caddo District Judge Mike Pitman, who has presided over the case since Cope's Oct. 24, 2010 arrest, transferred the case to Caddo District Judge Scott Crichton, in accordance with Rule 14.3* in Louisiana's Rules of Court.*
Cope's defense attorneys,Dwight Doskey and Bruce Whittaker of the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana objected to the transfer of judges and filed a motion for a hearing.
Caddo District Judge John Mosely presided over the hearing, held Monday morning, and after hearing testimony from both Pitman and Crichton, decided in favour of the transfer. Caddo District Judge Ramona Emanuel also was at the hearing, and the order consenting to the permanent reassignment of Crichton to the case was signed by the two judges involved in the transfer, as well as Mosely and Emanuel.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Cope's defense team filed a motion for an emergency stay with the 2nd Circuit at 4:19 p.m. The 2nd Circuit judges granted the stay by order at approximately 5:45 p.m., effectively shutting down the trial until the defense team's objections can be considered.
Cope's attorneys have until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, to file their objections with the appellate court.
The trial will resume after the higher court has ruled, but there is no time limit on when that decision will be handed down.
*Rule 14.3 Transfer of Allotted Case
Any case that has been allotted may be transferred from one division to another division for good cause, or by written consent of all parties, including the state, the defense, and the court.Consent transfers shall be by written order signed by both the transferring judge and the receiving judge.
If all parties do not consent, a show cause hearing shall be held, and the burden to show cause will be upon the moving party. The hearing shall be before a judge ad hoc, selected in the manner set forth for motions to recuse under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 675.