Oregon high court affirms juries can acquit in split votes

Oregon

Oregon as the only state where split jury verdicts amount to an acquittal

In this May 28, 2020 file photo a woman enters the Oregon Department of Justice building in Salem, Ore. The Oregon Supreme Court, ruling in a murder case, has upheld that a defendant may be acquitted by a nonunanimous verdict. This comes months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that guilty verdicts must be unanimous. Oregon is the only state that allows split jury verdicts — but only for not guilty verdicts. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky,File)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Supreme Court has upheld that a defendant can be acquitted by a nonunanimous verdict, months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that guilty verdicts must be unanimous.

Legal experts say the decision Thursday keeps Oregon as the only state where split jury verdicts with 10 or 11 not guilty votes among a 12-member panel amount to an acquittal, not a hung jury.
Defense lawyers hailed the decision, which erases doubts among trial judges about how the U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies in Oregon.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling settled a quirk of constitutional law that had allowed divided juries to convict in Louisiana and Oregon.

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