The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing opening arguments today in a case questioning the constitutionality of non-unanimous jury verdicts. Louisianans voted to require unanimous juries in felony trials last year.

Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says a decision likely would not impact cases that are no longer under direct review, but if the court overturns a previous decision allowing for non-unanimous verdicts we could see dozens of retrials.

“A handful of convicted individuals who were convicted on lesser unanimous verdicts are going to be able to challenge their convictions,” said Ciolino.

Oregon is now the only state in the nation to not require unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials.

The case being heard involves the non-unanimous murder conviction and life sentencing of Evangelisto Ramos in 2015. Ciolino says a favorable ruling would give inmates like Ramos a second chance.

“All of the inmates in Louisiana whose cases are currently on direct review should have their sentences reversed and their cases remanded for new trials,” said Ciolino.

Only 10 of 12 jurors voted to convict Ramos.

Ciolino says this case has the potential to have a huge impact on the nation’s legal system outside of just unanimous jury verdicts.

“It’s going to resolve the issue of if all of the provisions of the Bill of Rights are applicable as against the state as opposed to only against the federal government,” said Ciolino.

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