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Partially bifurcating trial prevented prejudice

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A defendant’s argument that he was prejudiced by a trial court’s decision to not fully bifurcate his murder trial failed in the Indiana Supreme Court.

Billy Russell appealed his conviction for murder and Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He appealed, in part, on the grounds that the trial court abused its discretion by partially – instead of fully – bifurcating his trial.

The Supreme Court affirmed the partial bifurcation in Billy Russell v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1311-CR-741.

During Russell’s trial, the court split his prosecution into two phases. In the first phase, the jury had to determine whether Russell committed murder and whether he unlawfully possessed a firearm. In the second phase, the jury was charged with deciding whether Russell committed felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and whether he was a habitual offender.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Indiana Court of Appeals that asking the jury to decide whether Russell knowingly possessed a firearm at the same time it was asked to decide whether he committed murder was not prejudicial. The Supreme Court did not find it was prejudicial to instruct the jury on the non-existent offense of “unlawful possession of a firearm” because the jury considered whether Russell had “unlawfully” possessed a firearm and whether he was a SVF in two separate phases of the trial.

 


 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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