Appeals Court won’t review Oregon’s nonunanimous jury law

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld the state’s unusual nonunanimous jury law when it declined to reverse a Portland judge’s decision not to grant a new trial to an African American man convicted in a split jury verdict.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that while the Appeals Court said Olan Jermaine Williams raised “serious concerns” about his 10-2 conviction in 2016, it ruled Wednesday it couldn’t review the case.

Williams was found guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court of sodomizing an unconscious man whom he had met at a summer barbecue and was sentenced to 8 1/3 years in prison.

Afterward, the lone black juror assigned to Williams’ trial spoke out publicly, claiming she had voted not guilty and felt that the majority of the jury disregarded her view.

For decades, Oregon juries – and those in only one other state, Louisiana – have been permitted to convict most felony defendants with a 10-2 vote. A petition before the Supreme Court claims the statute deprives some defendants of equal protection under the law.