October 8, 2019
Evangelisto Ramos was found guilty of murder in the 2014 stabbing death of Trinece Fedison, whose body was found in a trash can in New Orleans. Ramos’ jury was not unanimous; only 10 of the 12 jurors on the panel voted to convict him. Under Louisiana law, however, that was sufficient, and Ramos was sentenced to life in prison. A state appeals court upheld his conviction, and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The issue: Does the 6th Amendment allow states to operate justice systems in which guilty verdicts can be rendered by non-unanimous juries? In the federal system, all verdicts must be unanimous. But some states allow for non-unanimous verdicts.
Fun fact: In Louisiana, over 32,000 defendants have been convicted by non-unanimous juries. If the Supreme Court rules that the constitution requires a unanimous verdict, the State is likely to be flooded with a LOT of petitions for post-conviction relief. Of course, that hassle might have been avoided had the State simply required unanimity in the first place.