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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77787 Find in a Library
Title: Is Bifurcation in the Insanity Defense Salvageable?
Journal: National Journal of Criminal Defense  Volume:6  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1980)  Pages:185-199
Author(s): W C Schmidt
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The bifurcated trial system in association with an insanity defense is analyzed in the context of the recent review of this subject by the Florida Supreme Court.
Abstract: The bifurcated trial system as a method of administering the insanity defense determines guilt or innocence during one part of the trial while deciding sanity in another part. One advocate for bifurcated trials argues their advantages to consist of presenting a clear-cut delineation of the issues that prevents jury confusion, promoting a truer understanding of the issues, eliminating appeals to the jury's sympathy, preventing compromise verdicts, and saving time if the defendant is found not guilty at the first trial. The insanity defense bifurcated trial system has recently been held unconstitutional in the Florida Supreme Court, where it was ruled a violation of due process. The majority opinion indicates that the basis of an insanity defense is a person's inability to form the requisite intent; thus the insanity defense becomes an essential aspect in determining the guilt or innocence of the defendant, precluding its separation from the determination of guilt. The Florida decision relied upon both the Arizona and Wyoming Supreme Courts' decisions rendering those States' bifurcation statutes unconstitutional. Wisconsin, California, and Colorado are the only States which have maintained bifurcated systems. Both California and Colorado admit evidence regarding intent by following the diminished responsibility doctrine during the guilt-determining portion of the trial. The salvageability of bifurcation seems dependent on such factors as greater specificity of admissible evidence on the issue of insanity, conceptualizing insanity as a legal rather than medical finding which excuses criminal responsibility, 're-splitting' the trial, or adopting a diminished responsibility doctrine. A total of 98 notes are listed.
Index Term(s): Bifurcated trial; Florida; Insanity defense; Judicial decisions; State supreme courts; Trial procedures
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