46.1302 Procedure on plea of not guilty.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 46.1302]

Where a defendant pleads not guilty to the commission of a criminal act, then, before the defendant is subject to confinement under subsection (2) of 46.1301, it must first be found that the defendant committed the criminal act charged.

History: 1979, PL 16-43 § 2.

Case Notes:

In a bifurcated criminal trial, the jury is not exposed to evidence of the defendant's mental capacity until the jury makes an independent finding as to whether the defendant committed the act charged. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

When a crime includes an intent element, a finding of guilt in the first part of a bifurcated trial also implicitly includes a finding that the defendant either had the requisite intent or would have had it but for the mental disease or defect. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

Although a defense of diminished mental capacity is arguably comprehended within the "guilt" phase of a bifurcated trial, the interests in a fair trial and an orderly proceeding may be better served by reserving all evidence of mental disease or defect for the "insanity" phase because a jury is likely to view the evidence as being highly probative of issues other than the criminal defendant's mental state, and a limiting instruction would likely be ineffective. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

During the first phase of a bifurcated criminal trial involving the defense of diminished mental capacity, the court limited the evidence to whether the defendant is or would be guilty, assuming the absence of any mental disease or defect such as would render him incapable of understanding the difference between right and wrong, incapable of conforming his conduct to such a standard, or otherwise incapable of having any requisite mental element of the crimes charged or of any lesser-included offenses. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

During the first phase of a bifurcated criminal trial involving the defense of diminished mental capacity, though necessarily concerned with the defendant's thoughts relevant to the charged offenses, the court limited both parties from addressing such questions by expert testimony from psychiatrists or psychologists or by other evidence calculated to show that defendant did or not have a mental disease or defect. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302, 46.1304. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

During the "guilt" phase of a bifurcated criminal trial, the government may not make any use of statements made by the defendant to the government's expert witness or of any evidence discovered as a result of such statements that would not ultimately have been discovered had the statements not been made, unless the defendant put a fact at issue which could only be effectively addressed by the otherwise-inadmissible evidence and if required in the interest of justice. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302, 46.1304. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

If the defendant is found guilty of one or more crimes in the first phase of a bifurcated criminal trial involving the defense of diminished mental capacity, the trial will proceed to the second stage, during which the parties may present evidence on whether the defendant had a mental disease or defect which would either support an insanity defense or tend to negate the existence of any requisite mental elements of the crime or crimes. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

During the second phase of a bifurcated criminal trial involving the defense of diminished mental capacity, the government may use evidence obtained during its expert's examination of the defendant or as a result of such evidence, including but not limited to statements made by the defendant to the expert. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302, 46.1304. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

Defense counsel's motion for a bifurcated criminal trial constituted an implicit waiver of any objection to a procedure which, although clearly consistent with the legislative purpose of the bifurcated-trial statute, is not clearly authorized regarding a defense of diminished mental capacity. A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

The bifurcated-proceedings statute divides the inquiry into whether the defendant "committed the criminal act charged" and whether he was "insane at the time of the commission of the criminal act." A.S.C.A. §§ 46.1301-46.1302. American Samoa Gov't v. Taylor, 19 A.S.R.2d 99 (1991).

Research Guide: 15 ASC 7802.