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Calvin Duncan poses for a photo with two stacks of legal paperwork filed under "Notification of Direct Appeal Decision" and Non-unanimous Jury Verdict issues" in his Central Business District office in New Orleans, La., Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Duncan, a former Angola inmate has pushed the United States Supreme Court, through repeated petitions on behalf of inmates convicted on non-unanimous jury counts, to overturn the state's unusual law allowing murder convictions of a 10 to 2 jury serious felony cases. Voters approved an amendment to the state constitution on Nov. 6, 2018 to abolish the nonunanimous jury rule.

The resounding success of the unanimous jury constitutional amendment is due in part to the Advocate’s investigative reporting, which uncovered the underlying biases and inequality in the outcomes of the 10-2 jury system. The Advocate should be proud to have played such an important role in changing the future of Louisiana.

While this was truly a bipartisan effort, the Advocate’s editorial of Nov. 12, “La. shows bipartisan spirit set up a false dichotomy between “progressives” and “conservatives.” Your editorial said “progressives embraced jury reform as a matter of social justice,” while conservatives championed it “because of their longstanding vigilance about the power of the state to limit personal liberty without due process.”

Yet these are one and the same. The desire to protect everyone’s right to the Constitutional guarantees of due process is not bipartisan. It is neither “progressive” nor “conservative.” It is American. It is the hallmark of patriotism. Let’s applaud bipartisanship when we see it, as we did in this recent and overdue change to the Louisiana Constitution. But let’s also acknowledge that we aren’t always in opposition. Sometimes we see things the same way, through the lens of justice.

Marjorie Esman

retired nonprofit director

New Orleans