The U.S. Supreme Court Monday ruled that criminal jury verdicts must be unanimous to result in convictions, a decision addressing laws in Oregon and Louisiana that allowed convictions even with two jurors voting to acquit.
“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 Gorsuch wrote in an opinion. “A jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict.”
So how did Louisiana and Oregon wind up with laws not requiring unanimous verdicts for convictions and why did three justices rule in favor of the existing laws?
We ask Andrew C. McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. We also discuss the push to release prisoners in many parts of the country to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and the inexplicable surprise by some local officials when the freed inmates commit more crimes.