It’s time for Oregon to make it unanimous

The American Press

Last month, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to get rid of non-unanimous jury verdicts, ending an outdated state law that was set up in the 1880s as a way to convict African Americans easier under Jim Crow-Era laws.

Once the new law takes effect on Jan. 1, Oregon will be the only state left without a unanimous jury requirement.

Just like Louisiana has updated its state law to fall in line with the rest of the country, it’s time for Oregon to follow suit. And state lawmakers there say they will try next year to make that happen.

State Rep. Jennifer Williamson, a Portland-based Democrat and House Majority Leader, told <em>The Oregonian</em> that there are plans to submit two measures in 2019 that would overturn the existing non-unanimous jury law. Like Louisiana, Oregon allows for 10 out of 12 jurors to agree on a felony conviction, except for murder.

The proposal would also ask Oregon voters to choose whether to approve a constitutional amendment.

Now that Oregon is the only state left without a unanimous jury law, Williamson said it has created a "sense of urgency" that wasn’t there just a couple of years earlier.

She added that having a non-unanimous jury law in place is "one of the most racist parts of our criminal justice system." Oregon voters approved the non-unanimous jury law in 1934 after a murder trial that involved a Jewish suspect.

The issue was a hot topic during Louisiana’s legislative session earlier this year. Amid talk of the law’s racist ties, lawmakers in the House and Senate wasted little time approving it and sending it before voters in November.

It appears that Oregon is eyeing to change the law and require unanimous juries. State lawmakers took notice after an article in the <em>Oregon Law Review</em> called for such a change to remove what is considered a blemish to the state.

However, not everyone in the state is on board with changing the jury law. While some district attorneys have voiced support in changing the law, others said non-unanimous jury verdicts result in fewer hung juries and can help victims of crime.

Before Louisiana voters approved the change, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said there isn’t enough data to support the statement that unanimous jury verdicts are more reliable than 10 out of 12 jurors agreeing. He also mentioned finding nine out of 12 cases over the last 20 to 30 years that were reversed because of insufficient evidence.

DeRosier said in October that his office "can live with unanimous juries," but acknowledged it will be more difficult.

It seems more likely that Oregon state lawmakers will support unanimous jury verdicts, especially with Democrats holding majorities in the House and Senate. Williams said she’s optimistic voters will do the same, but that remains to be seen.

Louisiana’s lawmakers and voters have made their position clear on requiring all jurors to reach a unanimous verdict. Now the attention turns to Oregon.””unanimous jury

Crime

Arrest made in LaGrange Street shooting

Crime

6/4: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Crime

President Biden’s brother, son’s widow among witnesses expected at Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial

Crime

Iowa man gets 10-year sentence for sexual battery, domestic abuse

Local News

Yet another round of thunderstorms expected this afternoon

life

Westlake Recreation Center renamed after local ‘icon’

Local News

‘This close’ but Tigers can’t hold on, season ends

LSU Sports

‘This close,’ but Tigers come home empty

life

United Way empowering the youth of SW La. with Summer of Service initiative

Local News

Lawmakers approve surgical castration of child sex offenders

life

PHOTO GALLERY: Free junior golf clinic

Crime

Crimes against nature conviction, sentence will stand

Local News

Sexually transmitted disease rates a cause for concern in La.

Crime

6/3: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

life

Travel: Hot baths at Hot Springs

Local News

Stine legislation receives national coverage

Local News

Final budget restores teacher stipends, cuts early childhood education spending

Local News

Moore headed to Indiana

life

McNeese recognizes its spring semester honor graduates

Local News

Coushatta Tribe in line for $1.3M million in funding for infrastructure, road upgrades

Crime

Sheriff: Body found near road a hit-and-run victim

life

Sowela announces spring 2024 graduates

Local News

Tigers take two on Sunday to set up winner-take-all for Monday

McNeese Sports

Ex-McNeese golfer wins with dad’s help