Pressure rises in Oregon for the removal of non-unanimous juries after the conviction of Olan Williams.
What We Know:
- Oregon and Louisiana were the only states in America that allowed non unanimous juries until 2018 when Louisiana voters voted to remove the provision. New pressure to make this same change in Oregon comes from the case of Olan Williams, a young man convicted of having sex with a passed out partygoer.
- During this case, the number of guilty votes came to ten after jurors changed their votes from innocent to guilty post lunch break. One juror said she changed her vote to guilty because she needed to go home and take care of her children and didn’t want to return to court the next day.
- Ten votes was enough to convict Williams of felony sodomy, meaning he’d have to serve a mandatory eight year minimum in prison.
- The primary issue with this case and its connection to non-unanimous juries is the fact that Cash Spencer, the only African American juror on the case, his vote had no impact towards the defendant, who was also black.
- State Senator James Manning Jr. told the Associate Press, “We have evolved, and it’s time for our criminal justice system to reform and move ahead.”
- Many officials have spoken out in support of this movement mainly because of the severity of the job. A juror gets the final say so on a life changing decision in a person’s life, and that is a privilege that holds great responsibility.
An appeal of Olan Williams case is being taken to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the non-unanimous vote violates the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. Legal experts believe if the Supreme Court finds non-unanimous juries unconstitutional, then it will impact Oregon.