Alleged all around scumbag Thedrick Edwards was convicted of several robberies and rape in 2006. Here’s the rub with that shit. At Edwards trial, the prosecutor excluded every black juror they could, and the one remaining voted to acquit. But in Louisiana, at the time, only a 10-2 vote was needed for a conviction, so off to prison he went.
Since then, last year, SCOTUS decided Ramos v. Louisiana, where they basically made it law of the land that a jury must be unanimous for convictions in all state and federal courts. So now this case is to decide if that ruling is retroactive, and thus Edwards should get a hung jury, and potentially be forced to either be retried, or have his case dropped.
Andre Belanger, counsel for Edwards, swung for the fences when he closed by saying:
Jury unanimity predates the founding and ranks amongst our most indispensable rights. It significantly improves the accuracy and fairness because a verdict taken from 11 is no verdict at all. The state has no legitimate interests in avoiding retroactivity.
Louisiana’s nonunanimous jury scheme was thoroughly racist and discriminatory in its origin.
As members of this Court said in Ramos, we should not perpetuate something we all know to be wrong only because we fear the consequences of being right. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
Counsel for Vannos is basically arguing the merits of having convictions for crimes when she opened up by saying:
There can be no doubt that declaring the Ramos rule retroactive unsettles thousands of cases that involve terrible crimes in all three jurisdictions.
Requiring new trials in long-final criminal cases would be impossible in sum and particularly unfair to the victims of these crimes. Ramos is unquestionably a new rule. This Court has held on numerous occasions that a discarded precedent is the clearest sign of a new rule.
She’s basically arguing that she doesn’t give a fuck if some of these people are wrongly convicted according to the new Ramos rule, it’ll be a bunch of work for the state of Louisiana to deal with all these people wrongly convicted. This position is depraved AF.
In closing arguments, counsel for Edwards again, dropped a pretty heavy hammer, stating:
As this Court said in Ballew, the risk of sending 10 innocent people to jail is greater than the risk of sending one guilty person free.
In the end, the state has no legitimate interest in avoiding retroactivity but for its desire to let Mr. Edwards languish in Angola for the rest of his life. On what grounds can we let this happen when we know his conviction is unconstitutional? The answer to that question is none. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
In a 6:3 partisan decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Vannoy. The unanimity rule is not retroactive. In order for this to be retroactive, it would have to be what they call a “watershed” exception. They defined this as “alters our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding.”
Since this is simply a new rule, a new opinion, a new precedent, or whatever the fuck you want to call it, it isn’t a “watershed” thing, and thus isn’t retroactive.
Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.