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Louisiana Attorney General Continues Fight Against Unanimous Jury Verdicts

Posted by Alex K. Kriksciun | Aug 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

Last Friday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court in Ramos v. Louisiana, a murder case out of Orleans Parish in which lawyers for Mr. Ramos are seeking to overrule a precedent allowing for nonunanimous verdicts in state courts.  The brief argues that the Supreme Court should ignore concerns about racism being the motivation into the enactment of Louisiana's split-verdict law, even though Landry concedes the controversial law was birthed in a notoriously racist 1898 constitutional convention.  The brief further argues that efficiency, not racism, was the principal motivation behind the split-verdict law, and that a 1973 reform that subsequently required 10 of 12 votes rather than 9 of 12 to convict (or acquit) further diluted any taint resulting from the law's racist origins.

Mr. Ramos was convicted by an Orleans Parish jury in a 10-2 verdict.  Put differently, 10 jurors voted to convict but 2 voted to acquit.  If Mr. Ramos were arrested today, he would need to be convicted (or acquitted) by a unanimous jury, as Louisiana residents voted in a constitutional referendum to require such unanimous verdicts last year.  However, the question still remains whether that new standard applies to older cases such as Mr. Ramos's.  I feel strongly that in order to render a proper verdict, a jury must be unanimous one way or the other.  "Efficiency" or "streamlining" the process is not an adequate justification for deviating from centuries of Anglo-Saxon legal traditions.  Here's hoping that the Supreme Court strikes down its previous precedent holding that nonunanimous verdicts are acceptable.

About the Author

Alex K. Kriksciun

Attorney at Law/Notary Public Alex K. Kriksciun has devoted most of his legal career to defending the rights of people accused of crimes and the rights of people harmed by the negligence of others.  Whether the case involves a municipal citation, a life imprisonment without parole case, a wrongf...

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