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Charles Montaldo

Supreme Court Upholds Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts

By October 7, 2008

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Two states, Louisian and Oregon, have laws that allow offenders of some crimes to be convicted with less than unanimous jury verdicts. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld those laws Monday when the court refused to hear the appeal of convicted Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee.

The court also turned down an appeal for Lee in a another murder conviction.

Lee was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Garalyn Barr Desoto. The jury voted 11-1 to convict. Because the verdict was not unanimous, Lee's attorneys appealed.

In Louisiana, first-degree murder requires an unanimous verdict, but Lee was convicted of second-degree murder in the Desoto death. The Supreme Court ruled in a previous case more than 30 years ago that the Constitution does not ban less than unanimous verdicts.

Suspected In Seven Deaths

However, the court ruled in 1972 that federal criminal trials must have unanimous verdicts.

Lee, a former truck driver to traveled throughout Louisiana and MIssissippi, is suspected of killing at least seven women between 2002 and 2003. He was sentenced to death in two of the cases.

See Also:
Non-Unanimous Jury Verdict Stands

The Trial of Derrick Todd Lee

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October 9, 2008 at 2:23 pm
(1) victor says:

elections are not unanamous,so why should a trial be??we are a country of majority rules,,,,supposedly.

August 12, 2009 at 12:35 am
(2) AJ Simkatu says:

The reason they ought to be unanimous is because a conviction when 10-25% of the people on the jury think you aren’t guilty is terrible. That allows far to many innocent people to have their lives destroyed by a wrongful conviction. Even unanimous juries are wrong a woeful number of times.

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