Louisiana Voters End Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts
When the dust settled after a closely watched and eagerly anticipated mid-term election, voters in Louisiana approved a constitutional amendment to end non-unanimous jury verdicts in the state.
When the amendment takes effect on January 1st, it will leave Oregon as the only remaining state to allow split verdicts—reversing an earlier practice which allowed 10 of 12 jurors to convict defendants in felony cases. A detailed article on the change is available here.
The amendment passed the Louisiana Legislature—receiving more than the two-thirds approval required in the House and Senate. The Louisiana District Attorneys Association remained neutral. Those who voted for the amendment call it an improvement to the existing criminal justice system and state it will help the state of Louisiana ensure justice for everyone under the law.
Proponents of the amendment stated existing law could result in the conviction of innocent people. Opponents countered the new law would allow a single juror to prevent a conviction case where evidence proves guilt—adding that it would make prosecutors’ jobs more challenging.
Current Convictions Stand
According to other news sources, the passing of the amendment won’t directly affect those already convicted And existing split-jury verdicts will still stand. This new law will only affect those convicted in 2019 and after.
The previous law—created in 1898—allowed nine jurors to vote for conviction instead of a full 12. A change made in 1973 raised the number of required votes to 10.
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