The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn its decision in Apocada v. Oregon, a case that allowed states to have non-unanimous jury verdicts. Data from over 199 recent verdicts reveals the discriminatory effect of this provision; the influence of Black jurors (who are 2.5 times as likely to be in dissent) was diluted.
“The drafters of the 1898 Louisiana Constitution had an expressly stated purpose in mind: to establish white supremacy,” said LDF/Fried Frank Fellow Kristen Johnson. “To accomplish this, they created a rule that jury verdicts in criminal trials need not be unanimous. This rule worked to silence Black jurors and over-convict Black defendants for over 100 years. Today we ask the Supreme Court to overturn its decision in Apodaca v. Oregon, which allows states to have non-unanimous jury verdicts.”
Before 1898, juries in Louisiana required a unanimous decision for a felony conviction. But, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which allowed Black men to sit on juries, came Article 116 of the 1898 Louisiana Constitution. Its provision for non-unanimous jury verdicts was, in the words of its delegates, one of the ways the Constitution would “perpetuate the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana.”
Read our amicus brief here.