Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Ramos v. Louisiana that jury verdicts in state criminal trials must be unanimous in order to convict a defendant of a serious crime. This decision overturns the standards in Louisiana and Oregon, which had long punished people based on 10-2 verdicts. Louisiana changed its law last year to require unanimous verdicts in all criminal cases but did not apply the change retroactively. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress and a former federal and state prosecutor, issued the following statement:
This ruling is a victory for civil rights and criminal justice. The laws allowing nonunanimous verdicts in both Louisiana and Oregon were born of racist intent and helped perpetuate the racial disparities that have long plagued the U.S. justice system. Convicting a person of a crime and holding them accountable are grave and serious responsibilities, and the threshold for both outcomes should remain high. Today’s ruling goes a long way toward strengthening the 6th Amendment’s right to trial by an impartial jury and providing greater confidence in the results of criminal jury trials.