Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Over Non-Unanimous Jury Verdict

Today, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a man convicted of attempted murder on a jury vote of 10 to 2.  Only two states, Oregon and Louisiana, allow defendants to be convicted of some crimes despite some jurors disagreeing with the majority.  More than 80 defendants have been convicted in the past five years, including at least 24 in the past 16 months by non-unanimous juries in these two states.  Troy Barbour shot Donald Baker five times with a stolen gun.  Barbour claimed he acted in self defense and Baker claimed that Barbour shot him for no reason.  Barbour was eventually convicted of attempted second-degree murder after 10 jurors voted to convict and two jurors voted to acquit.  This decision establishes that the states can adopt their own rules and are not compelled to require unanimous jury verdicts.  But even in Oregon and Louisiana, to be convicted of first-degree murder, which could bring the death penalty, requires a unanimous verdict.

The case is Barbour v. Louisiana, 10-689.

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