SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon House has approved a measure that would ask voters to overturn the state’s decades-long practice of allowing split juries to convict felony defendants, an anomaly within the American criminal justice system that reform advocates have targeted as racist.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports House Joint Resolution 10 passed the chamber 56-0 on Thursday.
The resolution, which proposes changing Oregon’s Constitution to require juries to reach unanimous verdicts in all criminal cases, now goes to the state Senate. Should it pass there, Gov. Kate Brown’s likely signature would then send the referendum to voters in 2020.
For decades, Oregon juries – and those in only one other state, Louisiana – have been permitted to convict most felony defendants with a 10-2 vote. A petition before the Supreme Court claims the statute deprives some defendants of equal protection under the law.