Bifurcated Trial

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  • A two-stage trial, required in all capital cases, where the first stage determines a defendant's guilt or innocence and the second part decides whether the defendant should be sentenced to death. The bifurcated trial was developed as a remedy to what the U.S. Supreme Court found to be the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia (1972). In civil cases, bifurcation separates liability and damages decisions. Some states require a bifurcated trial when a defense of mental disease or defect is used. For more information, see Furman v. Georgia (1972).


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