HOT TOPIC — DA Underhill and the Oregon District Attorneys Association Work Toward Unanimous Jury Verdicts

On January 11, 2018, District Attorney Rod Underhill joined the Oregon District Attorneys Association in announcing their intent to work toward changing the law that allows for non-unanimous jury verdicts in most felony cases. Misdemeanors, murder, and aggravated murder have always required unanimity.

The announcement has been met with positive reactions both locally and nationally.

On January 16, 2018, the Oregon District Attorneys Association (ODAA) released additional information about the campaign to bring Oregon in line with 48 other states and the federal government on the issue of jury unanimity. ODAA wrote that:

When voters approved these amendments in the early 1930s, Oregon’s victims’ rights laws did not exist. Today, Oregon’s Constitution provides a strong basis for repealing the outdated jury trial waiver provisions as it provides crime victims an absolute right to play a meaningful role in each stage of the criminal justice process and to be treated with fairness, impartiality, dignity and respect. The Constitution ensures the justice system strikes a fair balance between the rights of crime victims and the rights of criminal defendants. The right for the prosecutor to have input in the waiver on behalf of the people and crime victims, is just as fundamental as a defendant’s right to request a jury waiver.

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