By Zach Brien, firstname.lastname@example.org
Election day in New Orleans saw a high turnout for a mid-term ballot, and voters kept U.S. House incumbents Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, in their seats. But the biggest local celebrations turned out for a down-ballot constitutional amendment.
Supporters of Louisiana’s Amendment 2 gathered Nov. 6 at the New Orleans Jazz Market on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to watch election results at a party put on by the Unanimous Jury Coalition. The amendment requires unanimous juries to convict people of any felony count.
Going into Tuesday night, Louisiana and Oregon were the only states where defendants can be convicted of felonies without unanimous verdicts. Non-unanimous juries are considered a vestige of the Jim Crow era, when racial segregation was written into laws after the Civil War. Unanimity already was required in capital trials and those for lesser felonies decided by six-member juries.
At around 10 p.m., it was announced that the amendment passed with 64 percent of the vote, ending the 120-year practice. It take effect next year, when it will be applied to trials involving crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.