Supreme Court (4/20/2020) - Ramos v Louisiana decided (unanimous jury verdicts required)

Link to Opinion of the Court.

Holding : The Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as incorporated against the states, requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense.

Judgment : Reversed, 6-3, in an opinion by Justice Gorsuch on April 20, 2020. Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court with respect to Parts I, II–A, III, and IV–B–1, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kavanaugh joined; an opinion with respect to Parts II–B, IV–B–2, and V, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor joined; and an opinion with respect to Part IV–A, in which Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined. Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring as to all but Part IV–A. Justice Kavanaugh filed an opinion concurring in part. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts joined, and in which Justice Kagan joined as to all but Part III–D.

Essentially, this judgement brings Louisiana and Oregon into line with the Federal Government and the other 48 States.

I have not even BEGUN to dig through the mess of the Opinion of the Court. Part of the Opinion had the concurrence of 5 Justices, part had the concurrence of 4 Justices and part had the concurrence of 3 Justices. Justice Thomas concurred in the Judgement, but for completely different reasons than the majority Opinion.

Justices Alito, Roberts and Kagan dissented.

For now, the thing to take away from this is that criminal juries must be unanimous.

More on this later.

I will add that I agree with the judgement of the court. As for the various opinions we shall see.

But clearly unanimous verdicts should be required.

I’m interested in reading this opinion - I like the bafflingly split opinions, they’re more interesting to read - but I’ve got my Corporations final tomorrow afternoon. So it’ll have to wait until after that.

The Supreme Court had one case a few years ago where they were incredibly fractured. There were not 5 votes for any Opinion, they somehow managed to settle on a Judgement. :smile:

The 6th Amendment does not say anything about unanimous jury decisions.

I could be convinced that it leads to unanimous jury verdicts despite not mentioning them by name.


And why does the SCOTUS put that requirement on when their own opinions don’t have to be unanimous. As in this case, hypocritically.

The argument is that it’s not mentioned specifically because at the time the 6th Amendment was written, unanimous jury requirements were standard as part of the common law going back hundreds of years.

Who made it?

The First Congress specifically rejected the language.

Who made what? The argument?

No one did, because it was never an issue, on a federal level. Unanimous juries have always been required in federal cases, since the beginning.

The same was true for every state, until Reconstruction.

Required by what?

Federal law.

This ruling was made based on the 6th Amendment.

And on what was this “federal law” based?

So I have a question for you then.

in the four corners of the text:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Can you point out the unanimous verdict of the jury of your peers for serious crimes?

I can’t seem to find it.

Please quote the test of the 6th that leads you to be convinced that is the case in ONLY serious crimes and not all crimes?

The common law. Then, eventually, statutory law.

It has never been the case that a unanimous jury was not required to convict, in federal court.

Ok, tradition.

But if the constitution just says Jury of peers . .

Wouldn’t a state law over ride common law ? The over ride would still be constitutional.

Even the most textualist reading of the Constitution requires that the plain text be analyzed in the context of the meaning at the time the Amendment has written.

All nine Justices agree on that reading - even the dissent only argues stare decisis.

Again, how does that preclude states from setting majority for conviction on less severe cases? Was it all or nothing back then? Was it only serious crimes required unanimous?

I believe that where it doesn’t specify – only that it’s a jury of peers, it can be set to less than unanimous.