High Court to Study Non-Unanimous Juries, Insanity

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The Supreme Court will consider overturning a criminal conviction that was determined by a 10-2 vote in Louisiana, the Associated Press reports. The justices acted Monday, four months after Louisiana voters amended the state constitution to prohibit non-unanimous verdicts in criminal cases. Oregon is the only state that still allows them. The appeal was filed by Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted of a 2014 murder in New Orleans. A Louisiana appellate court ruled that non-unanimous verdicts were constitutional at the time of Ramos’ conviction.

The high court also agreed Monday to decide whether states can eliminate the insanity defense for criminal defendants without violating the Constitution. The appeal was filed by James Kahler of Kansas, who was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, their two daughters and the wife’s grandmother. The cases will be argued in the fall. Upholding Kahler’s conviction last year, the Kansas Supreme Court said it had ruled on the insanity-defense issue in 2003 and Kahler presented no new arguments to justify reconsidering the decision.

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