(Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano)
G. Benjamin Cohen, Cormac S. Boyle, THE PROMISE OF JUSTICE INITIATIVE, 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT. Donna Andrieu, Irena Zajickova, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Leon Cannizzaro, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORLEANS PARISH, 619 S. White Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, COUNSEL FOR THE STATE OF LOUISIANA/APPELLEE.
This matter is on remand from the Louisiana Supreme Court pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's recent decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U.S. ––––, 140 S.Ct. 1390, 206 L.Ed.2d 583 (2020) (holding that jury verdicts in state felony trials must be unanimous). State v. Brown, 19-0248 (La. App. 4 Cir. 03/04/2020) ––– So.3d ––––, 2020 WL 1056803, writ granted in part, 20-0442 (La. 10/06/20) 302 So.3d 515. For the reasons that follow, we vacate Breyiana Brown's manslaughter conviction and remand for further proceedings.
RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Defendant, Breyiana Brown, was convicted of manslaughter by a non-unanimous jury.1 This Court affirmed her manslaughter conviction. See State v. Brown, 19-0248 (La. App. 4 Cir. 03/04/2020) ––– So.3d ––––, ––––, 2020 WL 1056803, at *8. Defendant sought review by the Louisiana Supreme Court. During the pendency of her writ application, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Ramos. Thereafter, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted Defendant's writ application specifically regarding the issue of the non-unanimous manslaughter verdict. Brown, 19-0248 (La. App. 4 Cir. 03/04/2020) ––– So.3d ––––, 2020 WL 1056803, writ granted in part, 20-0442 (La. 10/06/20) 302 So.3d 515.
On appeal, one of Defendant's assignments of error challenged the constitutionality of her manslaughter conviction by a non-unanimous jury verdict. Under Ramos, jury verdicts for felony convictions must be unanimous. Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U.S. ––––, 140 S.Ct. 1390, 206 L.Ed.2d 583 (2020). Since Defendant's case was pending on direct review when Ramos was decided, the United States Supreme Court's decision is applicable. See Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 351, 124 S.Ct. 2519, 2522, 159 L.Ed.2d 442 (2004) (observing that “[w]hen a decision of [the United States Supreme Court] results in a ‘new rule,’ that rule applies to all criminal cases still pending on direct review”). Therefore, because Defendant's conviction was based on a non-unanimous jury verdict, her manslaughter conviction is vacated.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's manslaughter conviction is vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings.
VACATED AND REMANDED
1. Defendant was also convicted of obstruction of justice, possession with the intent to distribute and illegal possession of a stolen firearm by a unanimous jury. Those convictions are now final and not the subject of this remand.
Judge Roland L. Belsome
LOBRANO, J., CONCURS IN THE RESULT.
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