U.S. Supreme Court orders new trial for Charles Mayeux

Had been sentenced to life in prison on 10-2 verdict for murder of his wife

Charles Mayeux's conviction and sentence for the 2015 murder of his wife has been vacated due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring unanimous verdicts. The 12th Judicial Court will have to schedule a new trial.

  Mayeux's case was one of three the New Orleans-based Promise of Justice Initiative had the Supreme Court overturn on Monday (Oct. 5), based on his 10-2 jury verdict conviction for the March 2015 death of his wife, Shelly Mayeux. Her body was found dead in the couple's home after it had been set on fire.

Evidence found she was dead before the fire started, but a cause of death could not be determined. Mayeux was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to life in prison on a 10-2 verdict.

The sentence and verdict were upheld by state appeals courts. 

"Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled clearly and correctly that Jim Crow jury convictions are an unconstitutional relic of white supremacy, and yet more than 1,500 people remain imprisoned on the basis of these unfair trials," Jim Crow Juries Project managing attorney Jamila Johnson said. Johnson said the Promise of Justice Initiative is pleased the high court ordered the lower courts to address the issues in the case.

  Mayeux's appeals attorney was Ben Cohen. He was represented at trial by Chad Guillot and Allen Smith. District Attorney Charles Riddle and assistant district attorneys Tony Salario and Michael Kelly prosecuted the case. 

Riddle said he was expecting the ruling in the Mayeux case and did not oppose his appeal "because he was entitled to it. Due to the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, he was automatically entitled to a new trial." 

 Riddle said a new trial date has not been set, but it will probably be scheduled for sometime next summer. 

The Supreme Court ruled in April in a case called Ramos vs. State of Louisiana that the practice of allowing defendants to be convicted on less than a unanimous jury is unconstitutional. Louisiana began the practice in 1898. The only other state that did not require unanimous verdicts was Oregon.

Louisiana voters amended the state constitution in 2018 to abolish non-unanimous jury convictions. That law went into effect in 2019. 

   The Ramos decision found even non-unanimous verdicts prior to the amendment are invalid. 

There are still some aspects that have not been determined -- such as whether the Ramos ruling will apply to any non-unanimous verdict conviction and, if so, how far back, or if it will only apply to those with active appeals in place at the time of the Ramos decision.

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