Supreme Court Strikes Down Non-Unanimous Criminal Convictions In Louisiana

On April 20, 2020, the United States Supreme Court overturned the 2016 conviction of a Louisiana man after a jury found him guilty of murder by a 10-2 margin, holding that Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury verdict in felony criminal trials violates the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Prior to 2018, Louisiana allowed criminal defendants to be convicted by 10 out of 12 jurors. At that time, Louisiana and Oregon were the only states that still allowed non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases. In 2018, Louisiana passed a state constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony criminal cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ramos v. Louisianapotentially opens the door for multiple prior felony criminal convictions in Louisiana and Oregon to be challenged and possibly overturned on the grounds that defendants were convicted by non-unanimous juries.