U.S. Supreme Court calls for unanimous verdicts in criminal trials

David Jacobs | The Center Square

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued a ruling in a Louisiana case that said juries in criminal trials must be unanimous to convict.

Evangelisto Ramos was charged with second-degree murder and convicted in 2016 by a 10-2 jury vote. In any other state besides Louisiana or Oregon, he would have received a mistrial.

Ramos argued his conviction by a nonunanimous jury violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the Sixth Amendment, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense.

Louisiana voters in 2018 amended the state constitution to require unanimous convictions for crimes committed in 2019 or later. The Supreme Court’s ruling requires the same principle for all state and federal courts and could lead to new trials for some Louisiana inmates.