Members of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association filed an amicus curiae brief Tuesday in support of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning a non-unanimous jury conviction in Louisiana.
Sitting Gov. Kate Brown, former Gov. John Kitzhaber and others also signed onto the “friend of the court” brief. It’s unusual for a governor to go against state law by signing onto an amicus brief.
The brief is in support of the case of Evangelisto Ramos v. the state of Louisiana.
Ramos was convicted of second-degree murder in 2016 by a non-unanimous jury with a 10-2 verdict.
Louisiana voters amended the state’s constitution last year, now prohibiting non-unanimous jury convictions. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to reconsider Ramos’ conviction in the fall.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that non-unanimous jury convictions are lawful but hearing Ramos’ case could be an indication that it is reconsidering that decision.
Oregon is the only state in the nation that still allows such convictions.
“Non-unanimous verdicts are not nearly as reliable as unanimous ones and often result from deliberations that are far less thorough than verdicts that must be unanimous,” the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association brief states.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would ask voters to scrap Oregon’s non-unanimous jury system.