APODACA V. OREGON, 406 U. S. 404 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404 (1972)

Apodaca v. Oregon

No. 69-5046

Argued March 1, 1971

Reargued January 10, 1972

Decided May 22, 1972

406 U.S. 404


Petitioners, who were found guilty of committing felonies, by less than unanimous jury verdicts, which are permitted under Oregon law in noncapital cases, claim that their convictions, upheld on appeal, contravene their right to trial by jury under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Held: The judgment is affirmed. Pp. 406 U. S. 410-414, 406 U. S. 369-380.

1 Ore.App. 483, 462 P.2d 691, affirmed.


1. The Sixth Amendment guarantee of a jury trial, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth (Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145), does not require that the jury's vote be unanimous. Pp. 406 U. S. 410-412.

(a) The Amendment's essential purpose of "interpos[ing] between the accused and his accuser . . . the common sense judgment of a group of laymen" representative of a cross-section of the community, Williams v. Florida, 399 U. S. 78, 399 U. S. 100, is served despite the absence of a unanimity requirement. Pp. 406 U. S. 410-411.

(b) Petitioners' argument that the Sixth Amendment requires jury unanimity in order to effectuate the reasonable doubt standard otherwise mandated by due process requirements is without merit, since that Amendment does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt at all. Pp. 406 U. S. 411-412.

2. Jury unanimity is not mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment requirements that racial minorities not be systematically excluded from the jury selection process; even when racial minority members are on the jury, it does not follow that their views will not be just as rationally considered by the other jury members as would be the case under a unanimity rule. Pp. 406 U. S. 412-414.

MR. JUSTICE POWELL concluded that:

1. Although, on the basis of history and precedent, the Sixth Amendment mandates unanimity in a federal jury trial, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, while requiring States to provide jury trials for serious crimes, does not incorporate

Page 406 U. S. 405

all the elements of a jury trial within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment, and does not require jury unanimity. Oregon's "ten of twelve" rule is not violative of due process. Pp. 406 U. S. 369-377.

2. Nor is the Oregon provision inconsistent with the due process requirement that a jury be drawn from a representative cross-section of the community, as the jury majority remains under the duty to consider the minority viewpoint in the course of deliberation, and the usual safeguards exist to minimize the possibility of jury irresponsibility. Pp. 406 U. S. 378-380.

WHITE, J., announced the Court's judgment and delivered an opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BLACKMUN and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, ante, p. 406 U. S. 365. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, ante, p. 406 U. S. 366. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, ante, p. 406 U. S. 380. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, ante, p. 406 U. S. 395. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 406 U. S. 414. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, ante, p. 406 U. S. 399.

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