Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, and Stephen J. Windhorst
Relator, Michael Carter, seeks this Court's supervisory review of the trial court's May 5, 2021 ruling which denied his application for post-conviction relief.1
On or about April 22, 2021, relator filed an application for post-conviction relief (“APCR”). Therein, relator appears to claim that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U.S. ––––, 140 S.Ct. 1390, 206 L.Ed.2d 583 (2020), which held that a defendant who is tried for a serious crime has a right to a unanimous jury verdict, should be applied retroactively to vacate his conviction by a non-unanimous jury. Relator now seeks review of the trial court's May 5, 2021 ruling which denied his APCR on the basis that Ramos does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review.
Ramos explicitly applies only to cases pending on direct appeal and to future cases. 140 S.Ct. at 1407. And on May 17, 2021, the United States Supreme Court determined that the jury-unanimity rule in Ramos does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. Edwards v. Vannoy, 593 U.S. ––––, 141 S.Ct. 1547, 1554, 209 L.Ed.2d 651 (2021). The Edwards Court noted, however, that states remain free to retroactively apply the jury-unanimity rule as a matter of state law in state post-conviction proceedings if they choose to do so. 141 S.Ct. at 1559, n.6 (citing Danforth v. Minnesota, 552 U.S. 264, 282, 128 S.Ct. 1029, 169 L.Ed.2d 859 (2008)).
Relator was convicted in 1989.2 At the time of relator's conviction, a non-unanimous jury verdict was not unconstitutional under Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404, 92 S.Ct. 1628, 32 L.Ed.2d 184 (1972), and relator's conviction became final well before Ramos was decided. Edwards holds that Ramos is not retroactive in cases on federal collateral review, and our State laws currently do not provide that jury unanimity applies to serious offenses occurring before January 1, 2019, nor that the unanimity requirement applies retroactively to cases on collateral review.3
For the foregoing reasons, we find that the trial court did not err in denying relator's APCR. Relator's writ application is accordingly denied.
Gretna, Louisiana, this 8th day of November, 2021.
1. Relator's writ, placed into the prison mailing system on October 27, 2021, is timely. See State v. Carter, 21-KH-494, on rehearing (La. App. 5 Cir. 9/21/21) (unpublished writ disposition).
2. Relator was convicted in 1989 of armed robbery and was sentenced to 99 years at hard labor. See State v. Carter, 570 So.2d 234 (La. App. 5th Cir. 1990).
3. At this time, Louisiana law provides: “A case for an offense committed prior to January 1, 2019, in which punishment is necessarily confinement at hard labor shall be tried by a jury composed of twelve jurors, ten of whom must concur to render a verdict. A case for an offense committed on or after January 1, 2019, in which the punishment is necessarily confinement at hard labor shall be tried before a jury of twelve persons, all of whom must concur to render a verdict.” La. Const. Art. 1, § 17; La. C.Cr.P. art. 782 (A). Edwards does not repudiate these provisions. See Edwards, 141 S.Ct. at 1559-60 (2021).
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