Of all the legal principles relevant in a criminal case, the right to trial by jury is one of the most recognized. The right to a jury trial is grounded in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution as incorporated against the States by way of the Fourteenth Amendment.
While it is generally believed that in a criminal jury trial the right to a jury trial comes with the right to a unanimous verdict, that was not the case in every State until this year. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Ramos v. Louisiana in January, 2023, two States, Louisiana and Oregon, incarcerated individuals convicted of a serious felony with a 10 – 2 majority guilty verdict. In Ramos, the Court held 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.
While Ramos assisted a number of defendants whose cases were still actively on appeal, Ramos left unanswered the follow up question of whether Ramos would be applied retroactively to those defendants convicted in Louisiana and Oregon with a 10 – 2 verdict whose appeal process was complete. That answer came in Edwards v. Vannoy, and in a 6 -3 vote, the majority opinion written by Justice Kavanaugh held: "The question in this case is whether the new rule of criminal procedure announced in Ramos applies retroactively to overturn final convictions on federal collateral review. Under this court's retroactive application precedents, the answer is no."
In deciding Edwards, the Court looked to its opinion in Teague v. Lane which held that only two classes of decisions are retroactive on collateral review: new substantive rules, for example a rule that particular conduct cannot constitutionally be criminalized, and new procedural rules that constitute a “watershed” rule of criminal procedure. Justice Kavanaugh, reviewing the Court’s historic and landmark decisions since in Mapp, Miranda, Duncan, Crawford, and Batson, and noting that retroactive application was not applied in those cases by the Court, reasoned that if none of these new rules applied retroactively, then how can any. Justice Kavanaugh’s answer to this questions was “none.” Therefore, as Justice Kagan wrote for the dissent in Edwards, “The result of today's ruling is easily stated, Ramos will not apply retroactively, meaning that a prisoner whose appeals ran out before the decision can receive no aid from the change in law it made. So Thedrick Edwards, unlike Evangelisto Ramos, will serve the rest of his life in prison based on a 10-to-2 jury verdict."
In Oregon since Ramos, Oregon’s Supreme Court addressed the retroactivity issue created by Edwards. In Watkins v. Ackley, that Court ruled that Ramos would be applied retroactively in Oregon.
In Louisiana since Ramos, defendants who had exhausted their appeals prior to Ramos will serve their sentences. Although in 2018, Louisiana voters prohibited non unanimous verdicts for crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2019. The vote followed a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of stories in The Advocate analyzing the law’s racist origins and the racial disparities in verdicts. Nonetheless, Louisiana has not provided relief for the many defendant’s still sentences imposed after a conviction based on a 10 – 2 verdict.
 Opinion No. 5924, (2023)
 In 2018, Louisiana voters prohibited non unanimous verdicts for crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2019. The vote followed a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of stories in The Advocate analyzing the law’s racist origins and the racial disparities in verdicts.
 Opinion No. 5807, (2021)
 489 U.S. 288 (1989)