Unanimous Jury Condition Won’t Be Made Retroactive

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine)  On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that any prisoners “who were convicted by non-unanimous juries before the high court don’t need to be retried.”

Louisiana and Oregon along with U.S. Puerto Rico are a few ”places that had allowed criminal convictions based on divided jury notes.” The justices ruled 6-3 that “prisoners whose cases had concluded before the justices’ 2020 ruling shouldn’t benefit” from the new rule that they must have unanimous jury convictions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated the court’s “well-settled retroactivity doctrine led to the conclusion that the decision doesn’t apply retroactively.”

Justice Elena Kagan, opposing the new ruling, said, “For the first time in many decades, those convicted under rules found not to produce fair and reliable verdicts will be left without recourse in federal courts.”

Justices were told in December that ruling in favor of the prisoners “could mean retrials for 1,000 to 1,600 people in Louisiana alone.” If given the benefit of not accepting the new ruling, it could mean “the release of violent offenders who cannot practically be retried.”

As a result of the court’s 2020 ruling, “juries everywhere must vote unanimously to convict.” However, the argument is that this decision is only for future cases. The real question that the high court needs to answer is “whether the decision should be made retroactive to cases that were final before the ruling.”

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