Supreme Court Declares Jury Decisions Must Be Unanimous for Criminal Convictions
A Supreme Court decision today declared “that a jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict.”
Before today’s ruling, in 48 States “a single juror’s vote to acquit is enough to prevent a conviction… two States, Louisiana and Oregon, have long punished people based on 10-to-2 verdicts.”
Now, the Supreme Court states “that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial… requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense”. The court writes how the “Constitution’s text and structure clearly indicate that the Sixth Amendment term “trial by an impartial jury” carries with it some meaning about the content and requirements of a jury trial. One such requirement is that a jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict.”
In this case, a man was convicted of a serious crime in a Louisiana court by a 10-to-2 jury verdict, and was sentenced to life without parole. In every other state (excluding Oregon), he would have received a mistrial. The man contested his conviction by a non-unanimous jury “as an unconstitutional denial of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.” Today, his judgment is reversed.