RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - There will be sweeping changes to Louisiana's judicial system come January 1after state voters overwhelmingly voted to support unanimous jury verdicts. A whopping 64-percent were in favor of the amendment which gets rid of the current 10-2 jury system needed to convict.
It's a victory for those like local defense attorney Ed Tarpley, who was instrumental in getting the item on the ballot.
"I never thought we had it in the bag. I always thought we'd win," said Tarpley. "But, the margin was incredible. Sixty-four percent victory statewide. That was tremendous."
But, what will the change, which goes into effect on January 1, mean for the people who prosecute crimes?
Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell spoke with us about what they'll have to do differently to avoid costly retrials.
"It's what the people wanted and those are the tools we have to work with," said Terrell. "We do our best not to take anything to trial that we don't think we can prove. While there have been 10-2 verdicts and 11-1 verdicts that people were convicted on, that's what the people say we need to work with, that's what we're going to work with."
We also asked newly elected 9th JDC division "B" judge, Chris Hazel, about the passage. He'll be on the criminal bench for now once he's sworn in.
"I think there are a lot of things that Louisiana does that we don't have to follow the rest of the states in the union," he said. "I think our criminal code is very strong. It's an evolution. It might make it harder for prosecution. I just think it was something that was an effort that had been worked on and it just came to fruition."
Tarpley tells us the changes will apply to offenses committed after the start of the new year.