John, right now, hundreds of people in Oregon who were
convicted by non-unanimous juries remain incarcerated despite a recent
Supreme Court ruling that non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional.^1
Passed in 1934 following the rise of the Klu Klux Klan in the state^2,
non-unanimous juries have meant that for almost 90 years, an Oregonian
could be convicted and imprisoned even if two jurors returned a “not
guilty” verdict. As per usual, Black and Brown people continue to bear the
brunt of the consequences of this law.^3
There is, however, a powerful person who can act to ensure that every
human currently incarcerated based upon a non-unanimous jury conviction
has the opportunity to be released and retried: Oregon’s Attorney General
Ellen Rosenblum.^4 But we need to move her to action.
[ [link removed] ]Join us in demanding that Attorney General Rosenblum stop preventing
people from getting fair trials untainted by the racist stain of
Last year, the Supreme Court acknowledged the racist origins of
non-unanimous juries, and ruled the practice - only ever used in Oregon
and Louisiana - unconstitutional. In the Court’s 2020 watershed decision,
Ramos v. Louisiana, the Court found that: “Oregon’s rule permitting
non-unanimous verdicts can be traced to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and
efforts to dilute the influence of racial, ethnic, and religious
minorities on Oregon juries.”^5 A person can no longer be convicted by
non-unanimous juries of any kind.
Yet, despite the decision, hundreds of people convicted by non-unanimous
juries remain in prison. Thousands more, also tried by non-unanimous
juries and who have since completed their sentences, continue to bear the
stigma of a conviction record - creating barriers to meaningful
employment, stable housing, and even reunification with family.
Why? Because the Supreme Court decision only applied to people who had
open appeals at the time of the ruling. The decision didn’t apply to
people who had already gone through the appeals process, despite them
having been convicted in the same unconstitutional way. This is an
arbitrary matter of timing, not justice.
Attorney General Rosenblum has acknowledged non-unanimous juries as “an
embarrassment to our otherwise progressive state”^6 a phenomenon that is
“linked to antisemitism and racism.”^7 So why should Oregonians be
condemned to imprisonment by a system that the Attorney General and the
U.S. Supreme Court have recognized as racist?
[ [link removed] ]John, this is where you come in. Add your voice to help
those convicted by a non-unanimous jury get a chance for a new trial.
Black people are only 2.2 percent of Oregon’s state population, yet are
estimated to comprise 16 percent of those convicted by non-unanimous
To not permit each Oregonian impacted by non-unanimous juries access to
justice because of an arbitrary deadline sends the message that some
lives, Black lives in particular, are unworthy of fair trials. The state
has prioritized convenience over freedom.
[ [link removed] ]Sign our petition and encourage Attorney General Rosenblum to stand on
the right side of justice.
Until Justice is Real,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Malachi, Erika, Megan, Ernie, Palika, Madison,
Ariel, Trevor, Ana, McKayla, and the rest of the Color Of Change team.