Conviction on 10-2 Jury Vote Stands in Criminal Case

The United States Supreme Court hours ago decided, without comment, not to hear the appeal of man convicted in a Louisiana state court for attempted murder by a 10-2 vote of the jury. The Supreme Court has held that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution requires a unanimous jury verdict for federal criminal convictions and that non-unanimous state criminal convictions do not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, whether defendants can be convicted on less than a unanimous vote in state criminal trials is and will remain a question of state law. Article I, Section 7 of Maine’s Constitution requires that jury verdicts in criminal cases be unanimous: “The Legislature shall provide by law a suitable and impartial mode of selecting juries, and their usual number and unanimity, in indictments and convictions, shall be held indispensable.” Currently, only Louisiana and Oregon permit non-unanimous verdicts in criminal cases. A 10-2 jury verdict in Maine and 47 other states would have resulted in a hung jury and the possibility of re-trial, but it could not have supported a conviction. Although two jurors voted to acquit the Louisiana defendant, his conviction will stand.