It’s a fundamental pillar of our legal system that you can’t be denied your freedom without proof that demonstrates – beyond a reasonable doubt – that you are guilty. That is why every other state in the nation requires unanimous juries in criminal trials. Yet in Oregon, a person can be convicted by only 10 of 12 jurors.
Oregon's law allowing non-unanimous juries, passed via ballot measure in 1934, reflects the anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant sentiment of the time. At the time, the Morning Oregonian newspaper openly stated the discriminatory basis for the law, opining in support of the ballot measure by writing “the vast immigration into America from southern" and eastern Europe, of people untrained in the jury system” made “the jury of twelve increasingly unwieldly and unsatisfactory.” The only state besides Oregon that recently allowed non-unanimous jury convictions was Louisiana, until its voters changed the law last year.
HJR 10 refers a ballot measure to the people of Oregon to change our state constitution to ensure that defendants in the State of Oregon will have the right to liberty unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, by requiring unanimous jury verdicts in all criminal trials. The ballot measure will be voted on in the November 2020 general election.