Historic acquittal in Louisiana fuels fight to review 'Jim Crow' verdicts
NEW ORLEANS Evangelisto Ramos walked out of a New Orleans courthouse and away from a life sentence accompanying a 10-2 jury conviction, thanks in large part to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision bearing his name.
Ramos v. Louisiana outlawed nonunanimous jury convictions as unconstitutional, with justices on the 6-3 majority acknowledging the practice as a vestige of racism from the era of Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation.
The 2020 ruling meant a new trial for Ramos, who was acquitted in March this time by a unanimous jury after defense lawyers highlighted weakness in the investigation leading to his prosecution.
I knew my case was important because a lot of people were going to get their freedom back, Ramos, a Black immigrant from Honduras, told The Associated Press, answering emailed questions about his time in prison and his pursuit of a new trial.
But prospects for freedom remain murky for hundreds of people convicted on 10-2 or 11-1 jury votes whose appeals were exhausted before the Ramos case was decided. The advocacy group Promise of Justice Initiative estimates there are more than 1,500 such people locked up in Louisiana.