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In light of the well-settled retroactivity doctrine, the recently announced Ramos jury-unanimity rule does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review.
In 2007, a Louisiana jury found petitioner Thedrick Edwards guilty of armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping. At the time, Louisiana law permitted non-unanimous jury verdicts if at least 10 of the 12 jurors found the defendant guilty. In Edwards's case, 11 of 12 jurors returned a guilty verdict as to some crimes, and 10 of 12 jurors returned a guilty verdict as to others. After Edwards's conviction became final on direct review, Edwards filed a federal habeas corpus petition, arguing that the non-unanimous jury verdict violated his constitutional right to a unanimous jury. The District Court rejected Edwards's claim as foreclosed by Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404, 92 S. Ct. 1628, 32 L. Ed. 2d 184, and the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. While Edwards's petition for a writ of certiorari was pending, the Court repudiated Apodoca and held that a state jury must be unanimous to convict a criminal defendant of a serious offense. Edwards now argues that the Ramos jury-unanimity rule applies retroactively on federal collateral review.
Did the Ramos jury-unanimity rule apply retroactively on federal collateral review?
Consistent with a long line of retroactivity judicial precedents, the court held that the recently adopted Ramos jury-unanimity rule did not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. The Ramos rule was a new rule of criminal procedure as it renounced prior precedent and expressly required unanimous jury verdicts in state criminal trials. However, the rule did not fall within the watershed exception to apply retroactively because the arguments for retroactivity had already been squarely rejected in previous decisions that were momentous and consequential.