SCOTUS TO LOOK AT JIM CROW CONVICTIONS

Supreme Court to mull challenge to convictions under “racist Jim Crow” jury laws

SCOTUS TO LOOK AT JIM CROW CONVICTIONS

Jerome Morgan was imprisoned for second-degree murder in 1994 after 10 out of 12 jurors voted to convict him. The two jurors who wanted to acquit Morgan were the Louisiana jury’s lone Black members — and they were right.

The then-17-year-old was at a New Orleans birthday party in 1993 and hid when gunshots rang out, before helping save the life of a victim who later testified in Morgan’s defense. Still, it would be nearly 20 years before the Innocence Project discovered evidence that led to Morgan’s exoneration in the murder of a 16-year-old who died in the shooting.

The Supreme Court ruled in April that laws allowing for felony convictions based on non-unanimous juries are in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the 6-3 majority opinion that non-unanimous jury laws in Louisiana were designed to render Black juror service “meaningless.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the laws originated as “a pillar of a comprehensive and brutal program of racist Jim Crow measures against African Americans.”

Morgan, now 44, said the finding would have prevented his conviction, and lawyers set to argue in a separate case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it’s time to afford the right to a new trial to hundreds of people still imprisoned on non-unanimous jury convictions in Louisiana and Oregon, the last two states to have had such laws.

“Had that law been corrected back in 1993, I would’ve never got convicted and ended up wasting 20 years of my life,” Morgan told CBS News. “We have a lot of racist laws here in Louisiana that should have been corrected long ago and it burns at you.”