PJI counsel filed cert petitions on behalf of defendants convicted based upon non-unanimous juries. Louisiana is one of only two states to allow a jury to convict a person based upon a 10-2 vote. The practice has its origins in Louisiana’s Constitutional Convention of 1898, which sought to protect white suffrage at all cost. This sordid history undermines the credibility of the justice system. PJI believes that faith in the justice system reduces crime and builds stronger communities. As Louisiana has been among the leaders in the nation in wrongful convictions, PJI believes that where citizens have reasonable doubts about a defendant’s guilt or innocence, a conviction cannot stand.
Retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr. discusses wrongful convictions in this Nola.com Op-Ed column, where he notes the following about public faith in the criminal justice system:
“Our justice system makes two promises to its citizens: a fundamentally fair trial and an accurate result. . . . If either of those two promises are not met, the criminal justice system itself falls into disrepute and may eventually be disregarded.”
“Where corners of the Constitution are cut, the circle of trust necessary to ensure a functioning justice system is broken.”