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Supreme Court Wrestles With Non-unanimous Juries Case

WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled with whether or not to require new trials for probably hundreds of prisoners in Louisiana and Oregon who had been convicted by non-unanimous juries earlier than the court docket barred the follow final yr.

The excessive court docket final yr dominated 6-Three that juries in state prison trials should be unanimous to convict a defendant. Previously, Louisiana and Oregon in addition to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico had allowed divided votes to lead to convictions. Now, juries in all places should vote unanimously to convict.

But the Supreme Court’s determination final yr affected solely future circumstances and circumstances during which the defendants had been nonetheless interesting their convictions when the excessive court docket dominated. The query for the court docket now could be whether or not the choice must be made retroactive. That would profit prisoners convicted by non-unanimous juries whose circumstances had been remaining earlier than final yr’s ruling.

Several justices famous the very excessive bar previous circumstances have set to creating a brand new rule retroactive whereas additionally suggesting this case would possibly clear it.

Why isn’t unanimity primary? Justice Stephen Breyer requested throughout arguments the court docket heard by telephone due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How may it’s {that a} rule like that doesn’t have retroactive impact? Justice Elena Kagan requested.

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