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Date: 03-04-2022

Case Style:

State of Louisiana v. Joseph M. Bryant

Case Number: 53,321-KA

Judge: John Marion Robinson



On Remand from the United States Supreme Court

Plaintiff's Attorney: JAMES E. STEWART, SR.
District Attorney

Assistant District Attorneys

Defendant's Attorney:

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Upon remand, Bryant was adjudicated a second-felony habitual
offender and sentenced on each count to 65 years at hard labor without
benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The sentences were
ordered to be served concurrently. Bryant appealed his sentences,
contending they were unconstitutionally excessive. This Court affirmed his
sentences. State v. Bryant, 53,321 (La. App. 2 Cir. 3/4/20), 293 So. 3d 701,
writ denied, 20-00611 (La. 11/10/20), 303 So. 3d 1044.
On April 20, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held in Ramos v.
Louisiana, 590 U.S. __, 140 S. Ct. 1390, 206 L. Ed. 2d 583 (2020), that the

1 Aggravated rape is now designated as first degree rape in La. R.S. 14:42.
Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as incorporated by the 14th
Amendment, requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a
serious offense in both federal and state courts. In State v. Richardson, 20-
00175 (La. 6/3/20), 296 So. 3d 1050, the Louisiana Supreme Court
determined that the holding of Ramos applies to cases pending on direct
review when Ramos was decided. Thus, the State of Louisiana will have to
retry defendants who were convicted of serious offenses by non-unanimous
juries and whose cases were still pending on direct appeal when Ramos was
decided. State v. Ardison, 52,739 (La. App. 2 Cir. 3/31/21), 314 So. 3d
1158. If the non-unanimous jury claim was not preserved for review in the
trial court or was abandoned during any stage of the proceedings, the court
of appeal should, nonetheless, consider the issue as part of its error patent
review. State v. Corn, 19-01892 (La. 6/3/20), 296 So. 3d 1043.
Bryant petitioned the United State Supreme Court for a writ of
certiorari. He maintained that his case was not final when Ramos was
rendered. In response, the Caddo Parish District Attorney conceded that
Bryant was entitled to a new trial because each conviction was rendered by a
10-2 vote and his case remained on direct appeal when Ramos was rendered.
On June 28, 2021, the Supreme Court granted Bryant’s petition, vacated the
judgment, and remanded the matter to this Court for further consideration in
light of Ramos. Bryant v. Louisiana, __ S. Ct. __, 2021 WL 2637825
An error patent is discoverable by a mere inspection of the pleadings
and proceedings and without inspection of the evidence and can be
considered on appeal. See La. C. Cr. P. art. 920(2). The minutes and the
trial transcript show that Bryant was convicted by a non-unanimous jury on
both charges. Furthermore, this matter was still on direct review when
Ramos was rendered. Accordingly, in light of Ramos, we vacate Bryant’s
armed robbery and attempted aggravated rape convictions. Bryant is entitled
to a new trial on both charges. Because the underlying convictions are
vacated, we further vacate his habitual offender adjudication and sentences.

Outcome: For the foregoing reasons, Bryant’s armed robbery and attempted
aggravated rape convictions are vacated. This matter is remanded to the trial
court for further proceedings in connection with those charges. His habitual
offender adjudication and sentences are also vacated.

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