Commonly known as Jim Crow jury verdicts, non-unanimous jury verdicts came from what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh previously described as Louisiana’s last Jim Crow law.
New Orleans – The Promise of Justice Initiative, who represents Mr. Reginald Reddick in State v. Reddick, along with approximately 1,000 similarly situated clients, provides the following statement.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that despite the tireless work of our office, our clients, their families, and our nearly 800 volunteers, the courts have rejected efforts to provide a remedy to people convicted by Jim Crow jury verdicts. Jim Crow is alive and well in Louisiana.
This is not just a loss for our clients. This is a loss for every Louisianian. Our courts must protect our fundamental rights and freedoms. Our clients never had a fair shake, and now the Louisiana Supreme Court has declared they never will. We set out in our brief and oral arguments how the Court was required to act to right this egregious wrong that was done by our government, which has unjustly deprived Louisianians of their freedom based on an unconstitutional, racist vestige of Jim Crow. The Court’s failure to remedy this injustice is a deep stain on our great state.
There are no words for a state’s highest court who can see so much wrong and pain on the faces of Louisianans, can see the Jim Crow roots visible above the soil of modern day, and can deprive those in prison because of unconstitutional convictions a new trial. Our hearts are with our clients, their families, and everyone impacted by these Jim Crow laws who will face the devastating consequences of today’s decision.
Thousands of Louisianans, and volunteers across the globe, have worked on this issue over the last couple of years. They have shown up for our community members in prison. Survivors of crime have gone to their district attorneys and the legislature and advocated for these community members. Corporate in-house legal departments have volunteered their assistance. Filmmakers have told the stories. Our clients and their families shared their experience in often raw and painful ways, so the public could understand the scope of the injustice caused by non-unanimous, Jim Crow jury verdicts.
This decision will be remembered as a grave misstep in Louisiana history. Next year, Louisiana legislators will again confront this injustice. We hope the legislature will act to ensure retroactivity and a remedy for the hundreds who remain in prison based on this Jim Crow law.
The Louisiana Supreme Court decided that hundreds of people will remain in prison despite never having a constitutional determination of their guilt or innocence. The Court’s decision today in Reddick v. Louisiana entrenches the harm of non-unanimous jury verdicts, a practice found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Ramos v. Louisiana.
Commonly known as Jim Crow jury verdicts, non-unanimous jury verdicts came from what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh previously described as Louisiana’s last Jim Crow law. Louisiana passed the non-unanimous jury verdict law—which allowed people to be convicted even when jurors thought someone was innocent—in order to silence the voices of Black jurors and to convict more Black people.
More about The Promise of Justice Initiative:
The Promise of Justice Initiative works to create positive change for people in the criminal legal system at the intersection of impact litigation, direct services and community engagement in Louisiana. Our tools include criminal and civil litigation, organizing, direct support, and policy advocacy.