WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court is kicking off its new term with a case that has sweeping implications for Oregon’s criminal justice system.
On Monday the court heard arguments on whether laws in Louisiana and Oregon that allow for split verdicts in felony cases are constitutional.
Right now criminal defendants can be found guilty by juries of 10-2 or 11-1.
This is the first time the court has considered the question since narrowly ruling in 1972’s Apodaca versus Oregon decision that non-unanimous verdicts were allowed in state but not federal courts.
Oregon’s attorney general warns that a ruling overturning Apodaca could impact “hundreds if not thousands of criminal convictions in Oregon over the past 47 years.”
Opponents of non-unanimous juries say they allow for guilty convictions even when there’s doubt.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told OPB, “The problem is if the U.S. Supreme Court, if it overturns Apodaca, this is going to impact hundreds if not thousands of criminal convictions in Oregon over the past 47 years.”
Supporters argue they lead to fewer hung juries and a more efficient criminal justice system.