Nonunanimous juries upheld by Oregon Appeals Court
In a ruling Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the state's unique nonunanimous jury law.
The case stemmed from the 2017 conviction of Olan Williams, an African American man. Williams was convicted of sodomy by a jury in Multnomah County. The verdict was split, with 10 jurors voting to convict and two dissenting. One of the dissenting jurors was an African American woman.
Effectively, Williams argued he was denied a jury of his peers. In his appeal, he said the nonunanimous provision of the Oregon Constitution violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled it couldn't review the case.
"We may only review the denial of a motion for a new trial if 'the motion is based upon juror misconduct or newly discovered evidence,'" Judge Darleen Ortega wrote in the five-page opinion. "Therefore, defendant's constitutional challenge to the non-unanimous jury provision as applied to his criminal case is not reviewable on appeal."
Williams wanted the court to grant him a new trial, but require the jury to reach a unanimous verdict, effectively overturning the state's nonunanimous jury law.
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