American Bar Association Petitions Supreme Court to Reconsider Decision Involving Unanimous Jury Verdicts in Criminal Cases
CHICAGO, Dec. 28, 2010– The American Bar Association yesterday filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of the petitioner’s request for a writ of certiorari in Troy Barbour v. State of Louisiana, in which the petitioner was convicted of attempted second degree murder by a less-than-unanimous jury verdict. The ABA specifically requests the high court reconsider Apodaca v. Oregon (1972), which held that the Constitution does not require unanimous jury verdicts for state criminal convictions.
The ABA urges reconsideration, in part, because one of the concurring justices in the Apodaca decision cited the association’s 1968 Standards for Criminal Justice as supporting his conclusion that states could use non-unanimous criminal juries. But, the ABA notes, the standards were amended in 1976, based on intervening research, to state that jury verdicts should be unanimous in all criminal trials. The ABA has continuously affirmed this position over the last 30-plus years, most recently in 2005 in the report of its American Jury Project, ABA Principles for Juries and Jury Trials. The ABA also urges reconsideration because research has continued to show that non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal trials “fail to foster thorough jury deliberation, attention to minority viewpoints or community confidence in jury verdicts.” In its brief, the ABA therefore requests that the court conclude that criminal defendants in state jury trials should have the same right to a unanimous jury verdict as criminal defendants have in federal jury trials.
The brief is available here.
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