If you were convicted of child pornography or another felony-level crime in Louisiana, could you soon see your conviction overturned?
Maybe. Here’s what you should know.
The U.S. Supreme Court rendered a verdict on split-jury verdicts in 2020
In April of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that felony trials in Louisiana require a unanimous jury for a conviction — just as they do in the rest of the nation. Louisiana and one other state were the only two in the country at that time that still permitted split-jury convictions for serious crimes, which critics claimed were a throwback to “Jim Crow” laws.
Since then, the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 15-count conviction for possession of child pornography against a Princeton native. When he was convicted and sentenced to 150 years behind bars back in 2019, there was one holdout for acquittal on the jury — and that would have been enough to set him free in almost any other state.
The court has now ordered a new trial. While this may be the first case to make its way back to the trial court, it won’t be the last: The Promise of Justice Initiative has already announced that they’ve filed more than 1,000 motions for post-conviction relief in other felony cases that involved spit-jury verdicts.
While many of those petitions will doubtless ask for the convictions to be flatly overturned, every case is likely to be scrutinized by the prosecution. If they think they stand a shot of winning, they’ll likely try to take a case back to trial.
The ruling offers new hope to some people serving time and in ongoing cases
If you’re currently serving time over a split-verdict conviction, you have good reason to be optimistic about your case.
So do defendants in ongoing cases where the prosecution’s evidence is weak. While sexually based offenses are often a hot button issue, it now only takes one juror with an independent mind and the ability to see the flaws in a prosecutor’s case to secure an acquittal.
If you’ve already been convicted of a sex crime in a split verdict or you’re currently facing sex crime charges, take this information into consideration as you move forward. An experienced attorney can provide guidance regarding your specific case.