Skip to main content

Supreme Court Rules Criminal Convictions Require Unanimous Jury Votes

Until Monday, two American states allowed defendants to be convicted by "majority rule." Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in and established a single standard for juries across the entire nation.

In Louisiana and Oregon, juries in state criminal trials had the ability to convict with a split vote, something that was unheard in the other 48 states.

(via Snopes): The justices’ vote overturned the conviction of Evangelisto Ramos. He is serving a life sentence in Louisiana for killing a woman after a jury voted 10-2 to convict him in 2016. Oregon is the only other state that allows for non-unanimous convictions for some crimes.

Louisiana voters changed the law for crimes committed beginning in 2019.

Attorneys for Louisiana argued that overturning their law could possibly open the door for thousands of retrials, as persons convicted for crimes since the passing of the 2019 law -- or even earlier -- move to challenge those rulings.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court opted to establish uniformity among all the states and resolve a quirk of constitutional law.

As it stands now, the Court's rules directly impact defendants whose convictions are still under appeal. "But for defendants whose cases are final," the AP says, "it will take another round of lawsuits to figure out whether the high court ruling applies to them."

Back To Top