Juries and Prior Convictions: Managing the Demise of the Prior Conviction Exception to Apprendi
18 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2014 Last revised: 9 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2014
This essay offers a menu of procedural alternatives for coping with the potential, some would say inevitable, abandonment of the prior conviction exception to the rule in Apprendi v. New Jersey. It compiles options states have used for years to manage jury prejudice when proof of prior conviction status is required, including partial guilty pleas, partial jury waivers, bifurcation of the trial proceeding, stipulations, and rules limiting what information about the prior conviction may be admitted. These options belie the claim that the exception must be preserved to prevent jury prejudice against defendants. For courts and legislatures interested in anticipating this development in Apprendi law, or interested in joining the states that already recognize that a prior conviction must be proven like any other element whenever it increases the penalty range beyond the range allowed without the conviction, this essay provides a handy reference to existing rules and statutes that could serve as blueprints for reform.
Keywords: Apprendi, Prior convictions, jury
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