Statement by Attorney General Rosenblum on Today’s U.S. Supreme Court Decision

April 20, 2020
• Posted in

Statement from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on today’s U.S. Supreme Court Decision:

“As of this morning, the United States Supreme Court, in Ramos v. Louisiana, has reversed its erroneously decided opinion in a 1972 Oregon case (Apodaca v. Oregon), in which it upheld non-unanimous jury verdicts in state criminal cases.

“This is good news! It is an embarrassment to our otherwise progressive state that we are the only state in the country with a law in our constitution that allows criminal convictions without juror unanimity.

“Oregon, through its legislative referral process, was in the process of changing our law when the Supreme Court announced last year that it would take up the Louisiana case it decided today. The timing was such that our legislature dropped its plan to refer the question of jury unanimity to Oregon voters. Instead, the Supreme Court has put Oregon in the spotlight for a law we never should have been adopted in the first place, but which has been followed here for 85 years.

“While I had urged the legislature — through the referral process — to take this matter into our own hands before the Supreme Court did it for us, we can now move forward to remove the law from our state constitution (that does not occur automatically) and address the many cases that require review as a result of today’s decision.

“We have been expecting this ruling, and we’re well-prepared to address its significant consequences for Oregon’s justice system. We have been working closely for months with our appellate courts and with the leadership of the criminal defense bar to plan our case review and the judicial process that will ensue. We will also need to be in contact with the many crime victims and their families who are impacted by this decision.

“Thankfully, the collegial and professional bench and bar in Oregon are accustomed to working together to navigate challenges — and this will be no exception.”

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.