Monday, July 14, 2008

XIV. Defendant's Claim that he is Entitled to a Bifurcated Proceeding

83. Denied

84. Denied for the reasons previously stated.

85. Denied. Such bias exists only in the minds of individuals opposed to the Death Penalty. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected this unfounded assertion.

86. Denied. In Commonwealth v Howard, 517 A.2d 192 (Pa. 1986), the court held that the Defendant has no right to bifurcated juries, one to decide the guilt phase and the other to decide the penalty phase. The Howard court wrote:

Appellant's next argument is that the trial court erred in denying his motion for the bifurcation of trial with separate juries, one to determine guilt, the other to determine penalty. In support of his motion, appellant had argued that a "death-qualified jury" can be reasonably predicted to be conviction prone. Therefore, there should be two juries for the two distinct phases of the trial.

Our Supreme Court has held that "simply questioning potential venire men on their position regarding the death penalty, or excluding those who are strongly opposed to it and cannot impose it under any conditions, does not necessarily produce a prosecution oriented jury." Commonwealth v. Maxwell, 505 Pa. 152, 165, 477 A.2d 1309, 1316 (1984); Commonwealth v. Colson, 507 Pa. 440, 490 A.2d 811 (1985). Furthermore, there is no provision in either Pennsylvania law or the Rules of Criminal Procedure for the empanelling of two separate juries in a first degree murder case. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying appellant's motion.

WHEREFORE, the Commonwealth requests this Honorable Court to deny this Motion.