By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
The Oregon Supreme Court invalidated hundreds of felony convictions Friday when it struck down all non-unanimous jury verdicts reached before the practice ended two years ago.
The ruling applies to all split jury convictions reached between 1934 and 2020.
Justice Pro Tempore Richard Baldwin said the adoption of 10-2 and 11-1 jury verdicts in 1934 was intended to decrease the impact of nonwhite jurors. Oregon’s non-unanimous jury system was approved by voters after a jury handed down a light sentence in a 1933 organized crime murder trial.
Divided verdicts were outlawed in 2020 by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ramos v. Louisiana decision. The order only applied to active cases, leaving it up to states to make their own laws regarding retro-activity.
There are about 300 people in Oregon with exhausted appeals convicted by a non-unanimous jury before the Ramos decision. County district attorneys will have to decide to pursue a new trial, cut a plea deal, or dismiss the charges.