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Unanimous Jury Requirement for Felonies Considered by House Criminal Justice Committee

May 08, 2018 11:28AM ● By Camille Mosley

(LA Radio Network) The switch to make Louisiana juries come to unanimous decisions will face a tough test in the House Criminal Justice committee. Currently only 10 out of twelve jurors have to agree if someone is guilty of a crime. A proposed constitutional amendment seeks to make all felony convictions unanimous. Christie Smith is the legislative liaison for the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

“This bill seeks to install the same system that works in 49 other states and which works in in all federal courts including those in Louisiana.”

The measure has already passed the Senate, despite concerns the proposal will make it more difficult to get convictions. Smith says that’s not the case.

“The truth of the matter is… if you look at our own experience in Louisiana, in the federal system the conviction rate is somewhere in the high nineties... 98 percent or better.”

Smith also says if you compare Texas and Mississippi they both are getting their share of convictions with a standard of unanimous juries.

“A unanimous jury is not at all a bar or a barrier for reaching a verdict. I mean, just look at Texas… our neighbors Texas and Mississippi… they don’t have any difficulty reaching verdicts or convictions for that matter.”

That House committee is made up of 10 Republicans, 8 Democrats, 1 independent.