OCTOBER TERM, 2019
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
RAMOS v. LOUISIANA
CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA,
No. 18–5924. Argued October 7, 2019—Decided April 20, 2020
In 48 States and federal court, a single juror’s vote to acquit is enough to
prevent a conviction. But two States, Louisiana and Oregon, have long
punished people based on 10-to-2 verdicts. In this case, petitioner
Evangelisto Ramos was convicted of a serious crime in a Louisiana
court by a 10-to-2 jury verdict. Instead of the mistrial he would have
received almost anywhere else, Ramos was sentenced to life without
parole. He contests his conviction by a nonunanimous jury as an un-
constitutional denial of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.
Held: The judgment is reversed.
2016–1199 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/2/17), 231 So. 3d 44, reversed.
JUSTICE GORSUCH delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to
Parts I, II–A, III, and IV–B–1, concluding that the Sixth Amendment
right to a jury trial—as incorporated against the States by way of the
Fourteenth Amendment—requires a unanimous verdict to convict a
defendant of a serious offense. Pp. 3–9, 11–15, 20–23.
(a) The Constitution’s text and structure clearly indicate that the
Sixth Amendment term “trial by an impartial jury” carries with it some
meaning about the content and requirements of a jury trial. One such
requirement is that a jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to
convict. Juror unanimity emerged as a vital common law right in 14th-