This week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state court juries must vote unanimously to convict a defendant.
This decision reversed the conviction of Evangelist Ramos in the state of Louisiana. He was convicted 10-2 by a jury of killing a woman in New Orleans. Two years after his conviction, Louisiana approved a constitutional amendment doing away with non-unanimous verdicts.
In many instances, the Commonwealth of Virginia times finds itself behind the times when it comes to our criminal laws. However, the requirement of unanimous jury convictions is embedded into our Constitution (Article I, Section 8 of our Bills of Rights)
While it’s tragic that non-unanimous verdicts have been employed so long, this is an important decision. It’s also a reminder that there are still huge inequities in our criminal justice system. It’s a system that needs constant improvement.