The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that defendants in criminal trials can only be convicted by a unanimous jury, striking down a scheme that has been rejected by every state except one.
The court said in a divided opinion that the Constitution requires agreement among all members of a jury in order to impose a guilty verdict.
"Wherever we might look to determine what the term 'trial by an impartial jury trial' meant at the time of the Sixth Amendment’s adoption—whether it’s the common law, state practices in the founding era, or opinions and treatises written soon afterward—the answer is unmistakable," Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchCan Biden defend his vaccine mandate? The 'nondelegation doctrine' may be the challenge The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Supreme Court could undermine freedom of the press MORE wrote in an opinion. "A jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict."
Oregon is the only state left in which defendants can be convicted over the dissent of up to two jurors. Louisiana recently abandoned the practice after more than a century of use.
The ruling overturns the 2016 conviction of a Louisiana man named Evangelisto Ramos. A jury by a 10-2 margin found him guilty of killing a woman in New Orleans. Two years after Ramos's conviction, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment getting rid of non-unanimous jury verdicts.
The new ruling likely means that Ramos could get a new trial.
Updated at 11:34 a.m.