SCOTUS eases rules on paper filings
Interview with Justice Genovese

Unanimous juries required for felony conviction, SCOTUS rules

This development doesn’t involve civil law, but it’s important to many Louisiana practitioners. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution require a unanimous jury for a felony conviction. Ramos v. Louisiana, No. 18-5924 (Apr. 20, 2020)

The vote did not follow stereotypical predictions. The majority opinion, reversing Ramos’s conviction, was written by Justice Gorsuch and joined for the most part by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kavanaugh. Justice Thomas concurred in the judgment. The dissenters were Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Kagan.

According to Part IV-B-1 of the opinion, the Court’s decision will apply to any non-unanimous convictions still on direct appeal. Left to be decided another day is whether today’s decision will apply retroactively to defendants who have exhausted their right to direct review and would now seek habeas relief.

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