Governor supports bill that would require unanimous verdicts in felony trials

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) – Governor John Bel Edwards tells News Channel 5 that he supports SB 243 authored by Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans) that would require unanimous verdicts for felony jury trials. That bill, if it makes it out of the legislature, would head to the people to vote on a constitutional amendment in the fall.

Currently, in Louisiana, only 10 out of 12 jurors are needed to convict or acquit someone, even on murder trials, but not where the death penalty is at stake.

Former Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley, who is currently a criminal defense attorney in Central Louisiana, testified in favor of the bill last week in front of a house committee.

“I do believe it is the right policy goal,” said Gov. Edwards. “If you look at when it was implemented and how it was implemented after reconstruction in Louisiana, its roots are not in keeping with the highest ideals of our state. I believe we ought to get back into the mainstream when it comes to requiring a unanimous jury verdict for felony convictions. I believe that is what the founders of our country intended. But, I certainly believe we ought to give the people of Louisiana an opportunity to vote on that and to settle this issue for themselves.”

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