Momentum builds in Oregon to require unanimous jury verdicts

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is the only state in America where juries are not required to reach a unanimous decision to convict someone of a crime. But momentum is building to scrap that system.

Several Oregon lawmakers are sponsoring a resolution aimed at eliminating an amendment to the state constitution that allows 10-2 convictions for all crimes except first-degree murder. The amendment dates back decades and has roots in white nationalism.

Sen. James Manning Jr. is co-sponsoring a resolution that would put the issue on the ballot in the 2020 election. He says Oregon has evolved, and it’s time for its criminal justice system to move ahead.

In one recent case, an Oregon man is appealing after a jury convicted him on a 10-2 vote of having sex with a passed-out person. He faces a mandatory minimum eight years in prison.

A Louisiana case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court also could have far-reaching effects in Oregon.