Tags: Supreme Court | scotus | jury | unanimous | gorsuch | ramos

SCOTUS Mulling Retroactive Application of Unanimous Jury Ruling

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U.S. Supreme Court (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 03 December 2020 12:47 PM

The Supreme Court is now weighing whether its ruling that state court juries must be unanimous to convict a defendant of a serious crime should be applied retroactively.

The Washington Post reported that the justices spent 90 minutes in a teleconference hearing trying to sort it out on Wednesday. If the issue is eventually applied retroactively, it would mean thousands of convictions would be suspect.

The newspaper noted that Louisiana, Oregon, and Puerto Rico had allowed some convictions by split juries.

Last April, the justices voted to overturn the conviction of Evangelisto Ramos, who was serving a life sentence in Louisiana for killing a woman. A jury had convicted him in 2016 by a 10-2 vote.

Louisiana lawyer André Bélanger, who represents convicted rapist Thedrick Edwards, compared the court's unanimous jury decision to its 1963 ruling that the accused have the right to an attorney, according to the Post. His client was convicted in 2007 on a split vote, the Post reported.

"A conviction can only be legally accurate if the state proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt of all jurors," he said.

But Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill argued: "Requiring new trials in long-final criminal cases would be impossible in some, and particularly unfair to the victims of these crimes."

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the Ramos decision, said: "Wouldn't we expect it to be difficult if, in fact, it were a watershed rule? If this really were a significant change and an important one, wouldn't we expect there to be some burden for the state?"

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The Supreme Court is now weighing whether its ruling that state court juries must be unanimous to convict a defendant of a serious crime should be applied retroactively. The Washington Post reported that the justices spent 90 minutes in a teleconference hearing trying to...
scotus, jury, unanimous, gorsuch, ramos
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2020-47-03
Thursday, 03 December 2020 12:47 PM
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