- Court: Oregon Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
- Date Filed: 12-30-2022
- Case #: S068825
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, J. for the Court; Walters, C.J.; Flynn, J.; Duncan, J.; Nelson, J.; Garrett, J.; & Baldwin, S.J., concurring.
- Full Text Opinion
Petitioner filed a second post-conviction petition based on his conviction by a nonunanimous jury verdict. Petitioner assigned error to the lower court’s denial of his petition. Petitioner argued Ramos should be applied retroactively to convictions that were finalized before the Ramos decision, under ORS 138.550. The State responded, the enactment of ORS 138.550 was intended for the opposite purpose citing Chavez. The Court found both constructions of ORS 138.550 inaccurate. The Court instead made its reasoning under ORS 138.530(1)(a), finding post-conviction relief based on the denial of constitutional rights is appropriate when the rights at issue are “consequential in the criminal  proceeding” and “offensive to our judicial sense of fairness.” Brooks v. Gladden, 226 Or 191, 204 (1961) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court found that nonunanimous jury verdicts do increase the risk of an unfair verdict. Oregon statutes enacted long ago can select from jury pools on the basis of potentially racist criteria. The selection criteria in conjunction with a nonunanimous verdict creates the potential for the bias in a majority to exclude a minority view, leading to unfair outcomes. The Court held that while "retroactive" post-conviction relief under Ramos is not available in every constitutional violation, however anything less than a unanimous guilty verdict is fundamentally unfair in a criminal proceeding and the defendant should be entitled to post-conviction relief. REVERSED AND REMANDED.