US Supreme Court to Review “Non-Unanimous” Jury Verdicts

While the Federal Courts require unanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases, such a policy is left up to the individual States as to whether to follow suit or not. Most states require unanimous jury verdicts in the majority of their cases. Until very recently, Louisiana was one of only two states that possessed a non-unanimous jury law; the other being Oregon. But effective this past January, voters overturned that law in Louisiana. Now, a murder conviction that resulted from a 10-2 jury decision is headed to the United States Supreme Court.

From The Associated Press:

“The high court will consider the case of Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted in 2016 of second-degree murder in the killing of a woman in New Orleans. Ramos is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.

The change in the state constitution took effect in January, but is of no help to Ramos without court action.

The last time the Supreme Court took up the issue was in 1972, when it ruled that nothing in the Constitution bars states from allowing some convictions by non-unanimous verdicts. But even in Oregon and Louisiana, first-degree murder, which could bring the death penalty, has required a unanimous verdict.

The court has held that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimous verdicts in federal criminal cases.

The 1972 case turned on the vote of Justice Lewis Powell. The court said states were not compelled to follow suit and require unanimous juries in all criminal cases.”

A copy of the case in question, STATE v. RAMOS can be found HERE.

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