On Oct. 21, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in the case of Reddick v. Louisiana denying some 1,500 people who are still in prison the right to a constitutional hearing.
In 2020 the US Supreme Court, in what has become known as the Ramos Ruling, specifically reversed the practice of split juries, but did not offer post-conviction relief for those already in jail who had exhausted their appeal process.
On May 10, 2022, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard arguments from the Promise of Justice Initiative and the Louisiana State Attorney General's Office in the case of Reddick v. Louisiana.
Reginald Reddick from Plaquemines Parish was convicted by a nonunanimous jury in 1997 after a 10-2 vote found him guilty of second-degree murder. He was then sentenced to life in prison.
The Reddick case argued that roughly 1,500 people who remain incarcerated due to nonunanimous jury verdicts should have access to a legal remedy.
On Friday, the state Supreme Court released its ruling stating, "we are mindful of the strong reliance interests at stake and the high administrative burden that many retrials of final convictions would impose on our justice system. We further note that in voting to amend the state Constitution to require unanimity in jury verdicts, the citizens of this state chose to do so with prospective effect only."
In 1997, Brandon Jackson, 50, was convicted of armed robbery after his alleged involvement in a holdup at the Applebee's in Bossier City. This conviction sentenced Jackson to life in prison.
Jackson was among 1,500 Louisianans imprisoned by nonunanimous jury convictions.
On Feb. 11, Jackson got out of prison on parole after serving 25 years. Since Jackson's release, he has been steadily working to help formerly incarcerated individuals create a brighter future.
Jackson joined a group outside the Louisiana Supreme Court building on May 10, 2022, to pray over the court hearing. He said, “today we carried the voices of hundreds of Louisianans to the place that can right a historic wrong—the Louisiana Supreme Court. Now we wait, in solidarity with those deprived of their constitutional rights because of this Jim Crow law, to see if the Court changes our collective future.”
Five months later the Supreme Court announced its decision. Jackson responded to the denied ruling on Monday, Oct. 24.
In a statement Jackson said:
"The scales of Lady Justice seems to be unbalanced continuously and HER blindfold once again has not been removed, but we as believers know, that one day everything will cease from trouble and injustice. We've learned that the Louisiana Supreme Court has once again taken two steps back and 1,500 men and women have been denied the safety-net of Freedom. I'm not going to editorialize or get on a soap box for any political agenda but I will draw on the people's conscious to believe we are living in the constructs of capitalism and socialism where one group of people rises and stay on top and the disenfranchised and incarcerated ostracized by the 10/2 reversal. We are better together and there is force in numbers. If you can sign a petition of over a thousand of people in our community, to prevent an adult club for entertainment from opening the power of the people in numbers at the doors of Justice in Baton Rouge and New Orleans on there steps to decry abatement for the 10/2 reversal will be loud and clear! But once again the voices of reason was not heard in sending juveniles offenders to be housed at Angola. That's a metaphor in the essence of truth" SENDING LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER " and the 10/2 reversal "is keeping the chickens in the henhouse when you know there's a wolf waiting at the door"! It's a travesty. Keep your brain open and listen to what people are saying, because if your mind is closed, then nothing new can get inside. The Jim crow laws are still at work in Louisiana in 2022. Keep watch and listen. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet! Out of 1,500 incarcerated men and women, can 2 family members stand side by side in unity and let's demand Justice for those still being subjected under a racist law."
The promise of Justice Initiative
The Promise of Justice Initiative (PJI) represented Reginald Reddick in State v. Reddick, and also served as representation for Jackson during his two attempts at retrial.
PJI works to create positive change for people in the criminal legal system at the intersection of impact litigation, direct services and community engagement in Louisiana. They represent approximately 1,000 clients who still remain in prison on nonunanimous jury convictions.
On Friday, PJI provided a statement to the Shreveport Times on what the States Supreme Court ruling means to those 1,500 people who remain in prison:
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that despite the tireless work of our office, our clients, their families, and our nearly 800 volunteers, the courts have rejected efforts to provide a remedy to people convicted by Jim Crow jury verdicts. Jim Crow is alive and well in Louisiana. This is not just a loss for our clients. This is a loss for every Louisianian. Our courts must protect our fundamental rights and freedoms. Our clients never had a fair shake, and now the Louisiana Supreme Court has declared they never will. We set out in our brief and oral arguments how the Court was required to act to right this egregious wrong that was done by our government, which has unjustly deprived Louisianians of their freedom based on an unconstitutional, racist vestige of Jim Crow. The Court’s failure to remedy this injustice is a deep stain on our great state. There are no words for a state’s highest court who can see so much wrong and pain on the faces of Louisianans, can see the Jim Crow roots visible above the soil of modern day, and can deprive those in prison because of unconstitutional convictions a new trial. Our hearts are with our clients, their families, and everyone impacted by these Jim Crow laws who will face the devastating consequences of today’s decision. Thousands of Louisianans, and volunteers across the globe, have worked on this issue over the last couple of years. They have shown up for our community members in prison. Survivors of crime have gone to their district attorneys and the legislature and advocated for these community members. Corporate in-house legal departments have volunteered their assistance. Filmmakers have told the stories. Our clients and their families shared their experience in often raw and painful ways, so the public could understand the scope of the injustice caused by non-unanimous, Jim Crow jury verdicts. This decision will be remembered as a grave misstep in Louisiana history. Next year, Louisiana legislators will again confront this injustice. We hope the legislature will act to ensure retroactivity and a remedy for the hundreds who remain in prison based on this Jim Crow law."
Check this out: Who gets a fair trial? Louisiana supreme court to decide fate of Jim Crow Jury convictions
Makenzie Boucher is a reporter with the Shreveport Times. Contact her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Hear reactions on Louisiana Supreme Court ruling on Jim Crow Jury verdicts