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CJRC’s Work with Nonunanimous Juries Featured Prominently in OSB Cover Story

November 18, 2020

The November cover story of the Oregon State Bar’s monthly publication, The Bulletin, tells the story of the history of nonunanimous juries in the state of Oregon and the impacts of the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana. The Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) and Clinic Director Aliza Kaplan were prominently featured in the article for the work Professor Kaplan and the Clinic have done to end nonunanimous jury convictions and help people convicted by a nonunanimous jury post Ramos.

In April, SCOTUS ruled in Ramos that nonunanimous jury convictions were unconstitutional. At the time, Oregon and Louisiana were the only two states which still allowed nonunanimous jury convictions. According to the article, “when Louisiana chose to stop allowing nonunanimous jury decisions, it decided to be prescriptive: Jury verdicts would need to be unanimous from 2018 forward. No retroactivity. No consideration of cases on appeal.” However, the Oregon courts have yet to address the issue of retroactivity. CJRC’s Ramos Project assists clients whose cases may qualify for retrials.

Since April, CJRC has provided legal assistance to people interested in filing pro se petitions for post conviction relief based on Ramos. CJRC has sent more than 500 information packets, mainly to prison inmates considering a challenge to their convictions by nonunanimous jury decisions, prepared legal briefing and materials for attorneys around the state working on Ramos related cases, and partnered with four of Portland’s top law firms on representing individuals on post-conviction Ramos cases.

“Kaplan remains steadfast, moving with her students and extended network of colleagues case-by-case,” stated the Bulletin article.

“At some point, the Oregon Supreme Court will have to deal with retroactivity under Oregon law,” Kaplan says in the article. “Until it addresses retroactivity, we just keep litigating and moving forward.”

“None of my criticism is personal,” Kaplan stated in the article. “I’m a social justice lawyer; calling out injustice is part of my job. And I also get to teach the next generation of social justice lawyers to stand up for what’s right.”

Read the full OSB Bulletin article here.

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