Statewide Faith Leadership Rallies Around Passage of Amendment 2 for Unanimous Juries
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: September 28, 2018
"We have people from the right and the left, Democrats and Republicans. Only God could have put that group together.”
Baton Rouge, La. - Before a crowd of more than five-hundred, the conservatively principled Louisiana Family Forum presented former District Attorney Ed Tarpley with it’s prestigious Kevin Kane Justice Award Thursday evening at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. Tarpley received the award in recognition of his stalwart effort to pass legislation which is the basis for Constitutional Amendment 2, which will appear on the ballot November 6 in Louisiana. The bill will end the use of non-unanimous juries in Louisiana, restoring a focus on liberty to our courts.
“God took this over,” Tarpley said as he accepted the Kevin Kane award. “We have people from the right and the left, Democrats and Republicans. Only God could have put that group together.”
In a joint statement, other faith leaders from across the state also dispatched their congregations and voters of all faiths to join the effort to pass Amendment 2. The statement, signed by founding members of the Interfaith Coalition for Justice, declared, "Men and women of faith are morally obligated to challenge injustice even when it is sanctioned by law. As St. Augustine wrote, and Martin Luther King, Jr. affirmed centuries later, 'an unjust law is no law at all.' Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury statute requiring only ten of twelve votes for a felony conviction is one such law.”
Before Thursday’s Family Forum event crowd, Tarpley echoed the sentiments of the letter's signers like The Right Rev. Joe Morris Doss, Bishop of the Episcopal Church and Aaron Ahlquist Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League saying, “This is about the preservation of liberty. The jury trial protection is one of the most precious rights that we have. The framers of the constitution gave that to us. On November 6 you need to vote ‘yes’ on Amendment number 2.”
BACKGROUND ON TARPLEY:
Ed Tarpley is an attorney in Alexandria, Louisiana, who served as District Attorney for the 35th judicial district, Grant Parish, Louisiana, from 1991 to 1997. Ed graduated from LSU law school in 1979 and has practiced law in Louisiana for 38 years.
Ed serves on the Cenla Pregnancy Center as the Vice-president of the Board of Directors and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Louisiana Governor's Prayer Breakfast. He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Louisiana State Bar Association, the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Alexandria Bar Association. He is also a member of the Alexander Rotary Club and the Federalist Society. He was a Delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Ed is a defender of the cause of liberty and a frequent speaker on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He is the author of a resolution adopted by the Louisiana State Bar Association on June 9, 2016, calling for the legislature to restore the unanimous criminal jury verdict in Louisiana.
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.
Louisiana Family Forum has endorsed Amendment 2, with President Gene Mills saying,"The framers of the Constitution clearly believed the constitutional right to trial by jury included unanimity. John Adams once said, ‘It's the unanimity of the jury that preserves the rights of mankind.’ Equity in our criminal justice system may require that Louisiana finally embrace the same standard called for by the founders, 48 other states, and all federal courts. 138 years is long enough.”
For more information, visit www.UnanimousJury.org.