SUPREME COURT ISSUES RULING REQUIRING UNANIMOUS JURY VERDICTS FOR STATE CRIMINAL TRIALS

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[U.S. Supreme Court\Ramos v. Louisiana]
Ed Chung: "This ruling is a victory for civil rights and criminal justice. The laws allowing nonunanimous verdicts in both Louisiana and Oregon were born of racist intent and helped perpetuate the racial disparities that have long plagued the U.S. justice system."
Photo: CSPAN screenshot

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Ramos v. Louisiana that jury verdicts in state criminal trials must be unanimous in order to convict a defendant of a serious crime.

This decision overturns the standards in Louisiana and Oregon, which had long punished people based on 10-2 verdicts. Louisiana changed its law last year to require unanimous verdicts in all criminal cases but did not apply the change retroactively.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress and a former federal and state prosecutor, issued the following statement:

"This ruling is a victory for civil rights and criminal justice. The laws allowing nonunanimous verdicts in both Louisiana and Oregon were born of racist intent and helped perpetuate the racial disparities that have long plagued the U.S. justice system. Convicting a person of a crime and holding them accountable are grave and serious responsibilities, and the threshold for both outcomes should remain high. Today’s ruling goes a long way toward strengthening the 6th Amendment’s right to trial by an impartial jury and providing greater confidence in the results of criminal jury trials."

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

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