State v. Sagdal

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-15-2015
  • Case #: S061846
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, C.J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Article I, sec. 11 of the Oregon Constitution does not mandate a jury of ten persons; rather, it provides for nonunanimous verdicts by ten of twelve jurors.

Defendant was found unconscious in a stopped car on a public road; the engine of his car was running. Police conducted a sobriety test, which Defendant failed with a blood alcohol level of 0.30. At trial, Defendant requested a jury of ten persons under Article I, sec. 11 of the Oregon Constitution. The court denied his request, empaneling six jurors who unanimously found Defendant guilty. The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed. On review by the Oregon Supreme Court, Defendant renewed his argument that the trial court had violated his constitutional right to a ten person jury. The State argued Article VII, sec. 9 “specifically authorizes the legislature to enact laws providing for juries of fewer than 10 members,” which the legislature did in ORS 136.210(2), allowing six person juries for misdemeanor trials. The Court found that the phrase “ten members of the jury may render a verdict of guilty or not guilty” does not create a requirement that a jury must be composed of ten persons; instead, this text provides for nonunanimous verdicts by ten of twelve jurors. Because Defendant was charged with a misdemeanor, a jury of six persons was appropriate under Article VII, sec. 9 and ORS 136.210(2). Affirmed.

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