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LatinoJustice Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Require Unanimous Decision in Major Criminal Cases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2020

CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, [email protected], 212-739-7581

New York, NY – Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Ramos v. Lousiana requiring a unanimous jury verdict for serious offenses. Judge Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion “Every judge must learn to live with the fact he or she will make some mistakes; it comes with the territory. But it is something else entirely to perpetuate something we all know to be wrong only because we fear the consequences of being right.” The following is a statement from Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF in response to that decision:

LatinoJustice applauds the Supreme Court’s decision that reaffirmed the value of the 6th Amendment in our judicial process and its recognition that we need to raise the bar towards unanimous jury verdicts when it comes to imposing a grave punishment. For far too long, people would face grave punishments while jurors still had questions and concerns about that individual’s culpability. We live in a criminal justice system that is skewed against communities of color and has sentenced countless innocent people, these mistakes are only magnified if a unanimous decision is not required in major criminal cases. What makes this practice in Louisiana and Oregon even worse was that they were originally passed with clear, racist intent and, as the Court says, to promote white supremacy. Indeed, the historical record reveals that just when Louisiana was forced to stop excluding Blacks from serving on juries it deliberately passed the 10-2 rule allowing convictions without unanimity so as to cancel out Black jurors who sought acquittals. Today’s decision is a significant step in mitigating the errors that occur in the judicial process and helping protect innocent people from having their lives needlessly upended.