The abandonment of our current practice of requiring a unanimous jury decision in court cases should be universally adopted amongst the various states. There is no impediment of an individual’s right by the acceptance of a 3/4ths agreement. Naturally, this sort of an arrangement should be reserved for non-capital cases strictly. This practice is currently being employed within the California civil court system and has been considered a successful judicial advancement.
Generally, the present process follows the line of thinking that if the jury fails to reach and unanimous verdict the case may be dismissed. In many situations a “hung jury” would constitute grounds to declare a mistrial permitting the prosecutor the opportunity to try the case once more.
Decisions such as these create undue stress upon the defendant, ties up value time with the courts and costs the taxpayer unnecessary expenses involving the retrial. With such disadvantages as these many supporters are advocating the transfer of jury system policies to the non-unanimous rule during criminal trials.
The Supreme Court in 1972 concluded when reviewing the case of Apodaca v. Oregon that the elimination of the need for an unanimous verdict was definitely not a violation of the Sixth Amendment rights, thus the defendant has little chance of losing their individual rights however with the drastic decrease in the pretrial stages public order appears to be best served. Getting potential criminals to an active court room quickly benefits the public and increases their safety greatly.
The typical image of one of the jurors holding out in defense of a supposedly innocent defendant are frequent concepts looked upon favorably by the general public. These court room dramatics are welcomed additions to our evening television programs but hold no essence within the framework of our actual court system. Most followers of this plan are concerned primarily with the cost associated with the retrials. In addition, controversial arguments have occurred concerning such a system being capable of defending an accused person’s individual rights, however, it has been proposed that there are essentially no difference between the decisions of juries composed for non-unanimous juries and unanimous decisions.
It was concluded that the right to a jury trial does not require an unanimous verdict according to the constitution. Despite the decision reached by the Supreme Court in the Apodaca case we now find only three states in the nation permit the use of non-unanimous verdicts in their court decisions. The three states are Louisiana, Oklahoma and Oregon.
The most positive consequences for the establishment of a non-unanimous decision rule is the cost reduction and efficiency of process encountered. States such as California have traditionally suffered greatly from excess court volumes and needless delays. In several high profile cases which resulted in a hung jury the spotlight had been justifiable focused on the topic of hung juries and its value to the justice system. It is current believed that by permitting non-unanimous jury actions the incident of hung juries will likely decrease and with it producing reduced court costs and more rapid court room trials which would take up less time and permit the workload to be reduced at a faster rate.