Skipper files motion for retrial in drug case

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; James Skipper, the Recreation Board No. 1 member found guilty last year of cocaine distribution, is requesting a retrial on the grounds that a juror was removed improperly during his trial.

Meanwhile, the Third District Court of Appeals has sent files in the case back to the Seventh Judicial District Clerk of Court’s Office for further work.

But in a motion recently filed in Seventh Judicial Court, Skipper contends that juror Lovanne Dixon was illegally removed from the jury hearing his case.

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Boothe said during the April 2002 trial that Dixon’s record showed convictions for forgery in Oakland, Calif., and several drug convictions in New Orleans.

Skipper submitted with his motion paperwork from California showing Dixon’s convictions were on misdemeanors, but no paperwork was attached regarding the New Orleans convictions.

In addition, Skipper said Seventh Judicial District Judge Boothe and Assistant District Attorney Ronnie McMillin held a conference in Boothe’s office with Dixon prior to removing him from the jury and that Skipper was not present at that meeting.

&uot;The law provides that the defendant must be present,&uot; Skipper wrote.

Jurors, meanwhile, assumed that Skipper had requested that Dixon be removed from the jury and said Skipper’s &uot;action clearly showed he was guilty of the charges,&uot; Skipper said in his motion.

Skipper, Boothe and McMillin could not be reached for comment Thursday.

As far as the case file being sent back to his office is concerned,

&uot;he (Skipper) just kept filing motions and we kept sending them down there&uot; to the Third Circuit, said Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber.

&uot;They finally sent it back to us and told us to send it back to them when we had it complete.&uot;

Webber’s office has until July 1 to complete the file and return it to the Third Circuit. The office has contracted with a person who handles nothing but appeals, &uot;and she’s working on (the Skipper file) right now,&uot; Webber said Thursday.

Skipper was arrested Nov. 27, 2001 after an investigation by the Concordia Parish Narcotics Task Force.