Facts of the case

Apodaca and two other defendants were convicted of assault, burglary, and grand larceny before three separate juries, all of which returned verdicts which were less than unanimous. Two of the cases were 11-1 and the other was 10-2 in favor of conviction.

Question

Is a defendant's right to a trial by jury in a criminal case in a state court (as protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments) violated if the accused is convicted by a less-than-unanimous jury?

Conclusion

decision 1 of 1

No. In a close decision the Court found that the accused's right to a jury trial does not require that juries return unanimous decisions in order to convict. After reviewing the history and function of juries in American society, the Court held that the most important function of the jury is to provide "commonsense judgment" in evaluating the respective arguments of accused and accuser. Requiring unanimity would not necessarily contribute to this function. A distinction was drawn, however, between capital and non-capital crimes.

Cite this page

"Apodaca v. Oregon." Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/1971/69-5046. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.