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Oregon was the last state in the country that had a non-unanimous jury law for just about every crime but murder.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday, April 20, that the U.S. Constitution requires unanimous jury verdicts in state criminal courts. The move ends Oregon's history of using non-unanimous juries to find people guilty of crimes other than murder.

Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 14th Amendment incorporates a person's Sixth Amendment right to jury unanimity.

Oregon was the last state in the country that utilized a non-unanimous jury law, allowing convictions in many types of cases with an 11-1 or 10-2 decision.

Monday's Supreme Court case was out of Louisiana, though that state had previously ended the practice of non-unanimous juries through a measure approved by voters.

Non-unanimous juries have been part of Oregon's Constitution since 1934, when voters adopted the practice. Legal scholars argue non-unanimous juries are rooted in discrimination, and that Oregon's law was originally intended to silence the voices of Catholic and Jewish immigrants in the state.

OPB is a Portland Tribune news partner.


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