On October 7, 2019, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ramos v. Louisiana.
In Ramos, Evangelisto Ramos was convicted of second-degree murder by the vote of 10 of 12 jurors. Challenging his conviction, Ramos argued that Louisiana’s statutory scheme permitting non-unanimous jury verdicts in non-capital felony cases violated his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Relying on its precedent, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Ramos’ argument. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently granted certiorari to consider whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous jury verdict (in criminal cases) against the states.
In a vote of 6-3, the court reversed. Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court with respect to Parts I, II–A, III, and IV–B–1, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kavanaugh joined; an opinion with respect to Parts II–B, 4–B–2, and 5, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor joined; and an opinion with respect to Part 4–A, in which Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined. Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring as to all but Part 4–A. Justice Kavanaugh filed an opinion concurring in part. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts joined, and in which Justice Kagan joined as to all but Part III–D.
To discuss the case, we have John C. Richter, Partner, Special Matters and Government Investigations, King & Spalding LLP.