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Senate votes to require unanimous jury verdicts for felonies

April 5, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana would shed its status as one of two states that don’t require unanimous juries in felony cases, under a proposal that won Senate support.

Lawmakers approved Sen. J.P. Morrell’s constitutional amendment by a 27-10 vote Wednesday, sending it to the House. It cleared the Senate with one vote more than the two-thirds needed to pass.

Currently, felony trials in Louisiana can be decided when 10 of 12 jurors agree on a person’s guilt. Only Louisiana and Oregon allow felony cases to be settled by a split verdict.

Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, says the non-unanimous jury policy began to minimize power of African-American jurors and maintain white supremacy in Louisiana.

If successful in the House, the change would go before voters in the fall.

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Senate Bill 243: www.legis.la.gov

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