Washington — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that juries in state criminal trials must be unanimous to convict a defendant, settling a quirk of constitutional law that had allowed divided votes to result in convictions in Louisiana and Oregon.
The justices' vote overturned the conviction of Evangelisto Ramos. He is serving a life sentence in Louisiana for killing a woman after a jury voted 10-2 to convict him. Oregon is the only other state that allows for non-unanimous convictions for some crimes.
Louisiana voters changed the law for crimes committed beginning in 2019.
Now the same rules will apply in all 50 states and in the federal system: Juries must vote unanimously for conviction.
The outcome will affect defendants who are still appealing their convictions. But for defendants whose cases are final, it will take another round of lawsuits to figure out whether the high court ruling applies to them.