The American Bar Association has weighed in on a criminal case out of Louisiana in which the defendant was convicted of attempted second-degree murder by a divided jury.
The ABA’s Dec. 27 amicus brief in support of a writ of certiorari in Troy Barbour v. State of Louisiana argues that the justices should reconsider the court’s 1972 opinion in Apodaca v. Oregon, which held that the Constitution does not require unanimous jury verdicts for state criminal convictions.
The ABA argues that reconsideration is necessary because one of the concurring justices in Apodaca cited the association’s 1968 Standards for Criminal Justice as supporting his conclusion that states could use non-unanimous criminal juries. But, the ABA notes, the standards were amended in 1976, based on intervening research, to state that jury verdicts should be unanimous in all criminal trials.
The ABA says research has continued to show that non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal trials “fail to foster thorough jury deliberation, attention to minority viewpoints or community confidence in jury verdicts.” In its brief, the ABA requests that the court conclude that criminal defendants in state jury trials should have the same right to a unanimous jury verdict as criminal defendants in federal jury trials.
The brief is signed by Stephen Zack, president of the ABA; Lisa Blatt, a former assistant to the solicitor general who is now a partner at Arnold & Porter; Anthony Franze, counsel to Arnold & Porter; and Victor Rortvedt, an Arnold & Porter associate.