Although a decision on the matter will apply to many fewer defendants across Louisiana now, a needed challenge to a badly flawed decision on jury sentencing points out in passing an unintended consequence of recent change to this policy.
Last year, voters amended the Constitution to sweet away the state’s requirement – shared now only by Oregon – that juries decide cases with only 10 of 12 votes (except, according to the criminal code, cases that could carry a capital sentence). However, the change to unanimity didn’t affect cases already in the pipeline.
Confusion is as confusion does, which sums up perfectly an incomprehensible ruling on an important question in Louisiana governance.
Yesterday, state District Judge Don Johnson issued a ruling declaring a case of a fund sweep unconstitutional. In this instance, the Legislature lifted from Public Service Commission revenues collected by fees on regulated carriers, appropriating some of that amount to pay for other operations of government.
Hold on to your hernia belts, a potential court decision either could make Louisiana state budgeting more intractable or become a catalyst for badly needed change.