ICYMI: Louisiana Columnists Highlight Reasons for Bipartisan Support to End Louisiana's Outlier Split-Jury System

August 20, 2018
Contact: press@unanimousjury.org

ICYMI: Louisiana Columnists Highlight Reasons for Bipartisan Support to End Louisiana's Outlier Split-Jury System

Baton Rouge -  During the 2018 regular legislative session, the media and most legislators where consumed by talk of a looming fiscal cliff, tax policy, and a possible partial state government shut down. Eventually, three extraordinary special legislative sessions were necessary to create a less than ideal solution to the long budget battle, a war that mostly played out along party lines. So, in mid May of 2018 when Republican State Senator Dan Claitor from Baton Rouge took the microphone on the Senate Floor to ask his colleagues to support a bill filed by his Democratic college, J.P. Morrell (New Orleans), no one knew how Senators would respond. 

Senator Dan Claitor, himself a former prosecutor, explained that the measure would allow the people of Louisiana to end the practice by which prosecutors can secure a felony conviction when some members of a jury believe that a defendant is not guilty. Louisiana is one of only two states that allows for a split-jury to return a guilty verdict, 10-2, in a felony case. Claitor made it personal, "Is 10 out of 12 good enough for your children? Is 10 out of 12 good enough for your wife? Is 10 out of 12 good enough for your neighbor," he asked in the Louisiana Senate chamber. 

His colleagues listened. And in a Senate that is nearly two-thirds conservative, the bill based with well over a super majority of support and will now appear on the ballot in Louisiana on November 6th. 

In her recent column, The Advocate's Stephanie Grace noted that after more than 70% of the conservative Louisiana legislature supported the effort to put the measure on the ballot this Fall, "advocates from the left and the right came together." Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist with the New Orleans Times Picayunegot specific, citing to the fact that legislation authored by a New Orleans Democrat, now official on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, "is being supported by the Republican Party of Louisiana, by the Louisiana Family Forum and by Americans For Prosperity-Louisiana." 


For more on why there is broad support on the bill and see the the full text of DeBerry's and Grace's full columns below as well as other resources. 

THE ADVOCATE: Grace Notes: John Legend's right; unanimous jury change belongs in criminal justice reform conversation

THE TIMES PICAYUNE: Convincing the whole jury is the least prosecutors could do

The Unanimous Jury Coalition - Scroll down for endorsement statements. 

Dylan Waguespack