Non-unanimous Jury Verdicts Threaten Justice For Us All

via Pxhere

William Anderson
November 25, 2019

Non-unanimous jury verdicts have been a tool used to enforce racism in the courtroom for a long time. 

When Black people got more rights after emancipation, the white supremacist power structures did their best to maintain their power... and apparently it worked, since we still face it today. 

Once Black people were able to take part in the jury process, white people switched up the rules. 

Because one Black person could hold out under a unanimous jury process - perhaps to prevent an obviously racist conviction - a split jury allowed white jurors to EXCLUDE the Black person’s vote and go on about their racist business. 

In 2018 Louisiana approved Amendment 2, which got rid of the racist law that allowed non-unanimous juries. Still, the Appeal reports, prosecutors “continue to seek convictions through non-unanimous verdicts for crimes that occurred before the change in the law.”

The Supreme Court is part of the discussion too. The court could very likely get rid of this racist rule for good if it chooses to. And analysis from Slate suggests “it’s not if the court will demand unanimous verdicts, but how.” 

Since we know that this rule is motivated by racism and the fear of Black people having representation in the courtroom, we should hope the court does the right thing. The last thing we need is anti-Black laws maintaining their place on the books and impeding our progress.

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