On April 20, 2020, the United States Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch that requires state juries to be unanimous to convict defendants in criminal jury trials. The court’s 6-3 ruling overturned its 1972 decision in Apodaca v. Oregon.
Before this ruling, only Louisiana and Oregon allowed for 10-2 verdicts. Now they must join the remaining 48 States, including Maryland, that require unanimous jury verdicts. This Ruling holds that the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution shall apply in the same way to the states as it does the federal government. Most of our Constitutional rights were already incorporated and applied to the states, however the Supreme Court had long allowed this protection to be decided on a state-by-state basis.
This complicated decision by Justice Gorsuch was joined in part by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas writing concurring opinions. Justice Samuel Alito dissented and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and in part by Justice Elena Kagan. In his dissent, Justice Alito opined that the decision not only overruled precedent but “imposes a potentially crushing burden on the courts and criminal justice systems of those States.” Fortunately for criminal defendants, their right to a fair trial won out.
Here at Gritz, Hanifin, & Shih, LLC we work hard every day to protect your constitutional rights. It is important when you are hiring an attorney that you understand your rights and how they will affect your case. A criminal jury trial is a complicated and serious occurrence and should be handled as such. Call today at 301-217-9200 to discuss your rights and your right to a fair trial.