Amendment number two on the November ballot is getting nationwide attention, with over two million dollars pumped into the state to convince voters to support requiring unanimous jury decisions in felony trials. President of the Public Affairs Research Council, Robert Travis Scott, says the amendment will have huge legal ramifications if approved.
“I think this is the most important amendment in terms of gravity that we have seen proposed in Louisiana in a really long time.”
The Bayou State and Oregon are the only two states that do not require an unanimous jury decision to secure a guilty verdict.
A bipartisan coalition has arisen in support of the amendment, highlighting the law’s racist history, propensity to inspire prosecutors to seek harsher charges, and the possibility for unjust rulings against political opponents. Scott says supports hope the amendment will modernize the state legal system.
“It has its roots in the 19th century racist past, and a lot of people have seen that the alw has had a disparate effect on minorities the way it is now.”
No major state organizations, including Louisiana DAs and Sheriffs groups, have voiced opposition to the change, but Scott says that doesn’t mean everyone will be on board with the change. The PAR President says some prosecutors may find the amendment frustrating, because it will take away a powerful tool in the trial process.
“A non-unanimous jury is a more efficient system. It would probably have fewer hung juries, and so would save a lot of time.”
Early voting for the November ballot ends on Tuesday, with Sunday off.