Conservative District Attorneys Join Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Jim Crow-era Law in Louisiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: October 18, 2018
"The amendment is an opportunity to be on the right side of history.”
Baton Rouge, La. - This week, four prominent Louisiana District Attorneys joined the bipartisan wave of elected officials and political figures in supporting Amendment 2 in Louisiana, which would require unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials if passed--a requirement in every state but Louisiana and Oregon.
Hillar Moore III, Paul Connick, James Stewart Sr. and Keith Stutes, the district attorneys for East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Caddo and Lafayette parishes were quoted in an article featured in The Advocate.
“I simply think at this point in our history, it’s no longer good for us to be one of only two states that are different than the rest of the nation,” Keith Stutes was quoted as saying in The Advocate.
James Stewart Sr., a former judge, said the amendment was an opportunity "to be on the right side of history."
Six other DAs have previously said they support Amendment 2. They include: Charles Riddle, the district attorney for Avoyelles Parish; Bradley Burget, the district attorney for Concordia and Catahoula parishes; Joel Chaisson, the district attorney for St. Charles Parish; Perry Nicosia, the district attorney for St. Bernard Parish; Michael Cassidy, the district attorney of Jefferson Davis Parish; and Sam D’Aquilla, the district attorney for East and West Feliciana parishes.
Despite their frequent and outspoken opposition for recent bipartisan reforms to Louisiana’s criminal justice system that moved the state from one in incarceration to number two, the conservative DAs have rallied behind support for the Amendment to repeal the Jim Crow-era split jury rule that has led to 40% of all of Louisiana’s wrongful convictions over the last decade.
The DAs support for unanimous jury verdicts is the latest in a wave of bipartisan support that has yet to face any formal opposition in Louisiana.
Election Day, where Amendment 2 will be on the ballot, is November 6. Early voting in Louisiana begins October 23 and runs through the 30th.
The Unanimous Jury Coalition is a group of community-focused organizations working on voter education and registration across the state leading up to the November election. It will conduct a robust statewide effort to inform voters about Constitutional Amendment 2.
Bipartisan support for the ballot initiative formed after Louisiana lawmakers were presented evidence indicating more than forty percent of all those who have been recently exonerated were (mistakenly) found guilty by non-unanimous juries. Louisiana's outlier status - only Oregon has similar jury procedures - also persuaded lawmakers to bring the issue to a vote of the people. In 48 other states, all jurors must agree on whether a prosecutor has met the burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Louisiana is the only state where someone can be sentenced to life in prison without parole without an unanimous decision of a jury in favor of a guilty verdict.
For more information, visit www.UnanimousJury.org.