Sep 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court: Not guilty verdicts must be unanimous

Photo of a battered Puerto Rican flag hanging from a vehicle parked in the streets

Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that not guilty verdicts in criminal cases must be unanimous, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. territory has allowed a minimum of nine out of 12 jurors for not guilty verdicts for nearly seven decades.

What they're saying: The majority of judges in the court said in their decision that not guilty verdicts should require the same unanimity mandated for guilty verdicts.

  • The two dissenters countered by arguing that a defendant is presumed innocent until the state proves them guilty. One also accused his colleagues of distortion, per AP.

The big picture: The 5-2 decision is the result of a 2016 case that involved a Puerto Rican man accused of first-degree murder, and comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that jury verdicts must be unanimous to convict defendants in criminal trials.

  • Louisiana, Oregon and Puerto Rico had not required unanimity for convictions until the high court's ruling.
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