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Originally published Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 11:53 AM

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Louisiana Supreme Court OKs 10-2 verdicts, overturns Calcasieu judge

The Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the state law allowing juries to convict felony suspects by votes of 10-to-2.

NEW ORLEANS —

The Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the state law allowing juries to convict felony suspects by votes of 10-to-2.

State law allows such non-unanimous verdicts in felony cases where the punishment is imprisonment at hard labor. Death penalty cases require unanimous 12-vote verdicts.

Tuesday's Supreme Court opinion overturns a 2008 decision by Judge Wilford Carter in Calcasieu Parish. The state's highest court rejected arguments that a non-unanimous verdict violates a defendant's rights, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court is firmly on the record supporting the constitutionality of such verdicts.

Carter had ruled that suspects in two second-degree murder cases were entitled to unanimous verdicts, even though second-degree murder does not carry a death sentence.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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