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Date: 08-01-2020

Case Style:

State of Louisiana v. Jerome Richardson

Case Number: . 53,166-KA

Judge: Jeffrey Stephen Cox

Court: COURT OF APPEAL SECOND CIRCUIT STATE OF LOUISIANA

Plaintiff's Attorney: JAMES E. STEWART, SR.
District Attorney
KODIE K. SMITH
WILLIAM C. GASKINS
CHARLES K. PARR
Assistant District Attorneys

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description:







COURT OF APPEAL
SECOND CIRCUIT
STATE OF LOUISIANA







The instant matter comes before this Court on remand from the Louisiana
Supreme Court. The defendant, Jerome Richardson, was convicted by a nonunanimous jury of first degree rape and sentenced to the mandated term of life
imprisonment, without benefits. In light of the United States Supreme Courtís
ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __, 140 S. Ct. 1390, 206 L. Ed. 2d 583
(2020), and the fact that this matter is on direct appeal, the defendantís
conviction and sentence must be vacated. The defendant is entitled to a new
trial.
In State v. Ramos, 2016-1199 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/2/17), 231 So. 3d 44,
writs denied, 2017-2133 (La. 6/15/18), 257 So. 3d 679, 2017-1177 (La.
10/15/18), 253 So. 3d 1300, the defendant was convicted of second degree
murder by a vote of 10-2. The murder was committed in 2014; he was found
guilty in 2016. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial
court erred in denying his motion to require a unanimous jury verdict. He
asserted that La. C. Cr. P. art. 782 violates the Equal Protection Clause
contained in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and
Louisianaís statutory scheme permitting non-unanimous jury verdicts in
noncapital felony cases should be declared unconstitutional. The court upheld
the constitutionality of Article 782, finding that under current jurisprudence
from the U.S. Supreme Court, non-unanimous 12-person jury verdicts are
constitutional. The court noted that in State v. Bertrand, 2008-2215 (La.
3/17/09), 6 So. 3d 738, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the trial courtís
finding that La. C. Cr. P. art. 782(A) violated the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, relative to the number of jurors
2
needed to concur to render a verdict in cases in which punishment is necessarily
confinement at hard labor.
The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Ramos v.
Louisiana, __ U.S. __, 139 S. Ct. 1318, 203 L. Ed. 2d 563 (2019), to determine
whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment
guarantee of a unanimous verdict. On April 20, 2020, while the defendantís
appeal was pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court, the United States
Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as
incorporated by the 14th Amendment, requires a unanimous verdict to convict a
defendant of a serious offense in both federal and state courts. The Court
concluded, ďThere can be no question either that the Sixth Amendmentís
unanimity requirement applies to state and federal trials equally...So if the Sixth
Amendmentís right to a jury trial requires a unanimous verdict to support a
conviction in federal court, it requires no less in state court.Ē Ramos v.
Louisiana, supra. Thus, according to Ramos, Louisiana will have to retry
defendants who were convicted of serious offenses by non-unanimous juries
and whose cases are still pending on direct appeal.1

1 We further note that an amendment to Louisiana Constitution art. I, ß 17 was
approved by voters in a statewide election in November 2018. That section now provides, in
pertinent part:
A criminal case in which the punishment may be capital shall be tried before a
jury of twelve persons, all of whom must concur to render a verdict. A case
for an offense committed prior to January 1, 2019, in which the punishment is
necessarily confinement at hard labor shall be tried before a jury of twelve
persons, ten of whom must concur to render a verdict. A case for an offense
committed on or after January 1, 2019, in which the punishment is necessarily
confinement at hard labor shall be tried before a jury of twelve persons, all of
whom must concur to render a verdict[.]
Likewise, the Legislature amended La. C. Cr. P. art. 782(A) in 2018, to provide in pertinent
part:
A case for an offense committed prior to January 1, 2019, in which
punishment is necessarily confinement at hard labor shall be tried by a jury
composed of twelve jurors, ten of whom must concur to render a verdict. A
3
In the instant case, as stated above, the jury was not unanimous in finding
the defendant guilty of the serious offense of first degree rape. The jury was
polled, revealing a vote of 10-2. In addition, we note that even if the issue was
not preserved by the defendant for appellate review, this error is patent on the
face of the record. State v. Richardson, 2020-00175 (La. 6/3/20), 2020 WL
3424936. Accordingly, in light of the United States Supreme Courtís ruling in
Ramos v. Louisiana, supra, and the fact that this matter is on direct appeal, we
reverse the defendantís conviction for first degree rape. The life sentence
imposed for that offense is hereby vacated. The defendant is entitled to a new
trial.

Outcome: For the foregoing reasons, the defendant is entitled to a new trial. The
defendantís conviction is reversed and the sentence is hereby vacated. The
matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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