SCOTUS denies retroactivity of Ramos v. Louisiana Doctrine

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SCOTUS Denies Retroactivity of Ramos v. Louisiana Doctrine

In Edwards v. Vannoy, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 vote on Monday, determined the Ramos v. Louisiana case doctrine outlawing non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases does not apply retroactively to cases on federal collateral review.  Thus, defendants convicted by non-unanimous juries cannot challenge their convictions if they have used up their appeals.  Justice Kavanaugh wrote for the majority saying, "The question in this case is whether the new rule of criminal procedure announced in Ramos applies retroactively to overturn final convictions on federal collateral review.  Under this court's retroactivity precedents, the answer is no."  Conversely, Justice Kagan in dissent wrote, “The result of today's ruling is easily stated, Ramos will not apply retroactively, meaning that a prisoner whose appeals ran out before the decision can receive no aid from the change in law it made. So Thedrick Edwards, unlike Evangelisto Ramos, will serve the rest of his life in prison based on a 10-to-2 jury verdict."

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Speculates About Jury Verdict If Derek Chauvin Testified Seeking Forgiveness

Writing in the Wall Street Journal (subscription needed), ethicist Lance Morrow creatively draws parallels between the racism of former Alabama Governor George Wallace and ex-cop Derek Chauvin.  Morrow asks if Chauvin had cried and pled for forgiveness on the witness stand, would the jury have exercised the power to nullify his guilt?

Rural County Judge Praises Capacities of Jurors to Be Fair While Being Independently Knowledgeable About Case Facts

Jim Redwine is a retired circuit court judge in rural Posey County, Indiana.  The National Judicial College published Redwine’s reflections on whether jurors who are saturated with media coverage of a gruesome crime (as were the jurors in the Derek Chauvin case) can be fair and impartial.  Relying on his experiences with jurors in his small community, he writes, “During my 40 years as a trial judge in a small, rural county with only two judges, I was faced countless times with having to process cases about which I had personal knowledge. For example, a crime might be reported and then the police or sheriff’s department would present me with a sworn affidavit in support of a request to arrest someone and/or to search their home. A great amount of detail about the alleged crime and the suspect would be laid out before me. Later I would sit as judge on this case.  Another fairly frequent circumstance was when I would know both the named victim and the defendant. I would still sit on the case. In fact, I have remained as the deciding judge on countless cases at the request of victims, defendants and their legal representatives because they all wanted the cases resolved without delay or excessive cost and because the parties and I assumed I could separate the wheat from the chaff, follow the law and be fair and objective.”  He titles his article, “If the Local Judge Can Be Objective, So Can the Local Jurors.”

“A prosecutor says no to a rape charge, so a college student calls her own grand jury”

That’s the title of Washington Post story. The subject is Madison Smith, a Kansas college student whose sexual assault complaint was not prosecuted by a local prosecutor.  In this matter, we learn about a 19th-century law that allows citizens to summon a grand jury to bring charges.  Go deeper and learn how the actions of saloonkeepers inspired this unusual citizen remedy.

Judges Forum on Jury Issues to Be Held Virtually on July 17, 2021

We remind readers the Pound Civil Justice Institute will hold its 29th annual Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, titled Juries, Voir Dire, Batson, and Beyond: Achieving Fairness in Civil Jury Trials, as a virtual program on Saturday, July 17, 2021. The Forum will feature academic papers presented by law professors Shari Diamond (Northwestern) and Valerie Hans (Cornell); panel discussion among legal academics, jurists, and members of the defense and plaintiff bars; and small discussion groups for attending judges.

The Institute will accommodate as many state trial and appellate judges as possible at this complimentary conference.  Judges will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.  Space in the discussion groups is relatively limited; if necessary, appellate judges will be given priority for the discussion groups.  CLE/CJE credit will be obtained in states where judges request this.  Judges may express their wish to attend the Forum here.