In Valdez v. State, the Nevada Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutional rights and statutory procedures regarding instructing a jury on the separating the finding of guilt from the penalty phase of the legal process in a first-degree murder case.
In Valdez the Court addressed four issues:
1) Whether the district court must explicitly instruct the jury, immediately prior to deliberations in a first-degree murder case, that it is to determine only the question of guilt and not deliberate on the sentence until the separate penalty phase of the proceedings;
2) Whether the jury acted improperly by deliberating the penalty while deciding the issue of guilt, and if so, whether the district court abused its discretion in denying a motion for a mistrial based on this jury misconduct;
3) Whether numerous alleged acts of prosecutorial misconduct require reversal; and,
4) Whether cumulative error warrants reversal in this case.
The Nevada Supreme Court ultimately found that "the district court's failure to give a written instruction regarding bifurcation was an abuse of discretion" and that the ensuing juror misconduct violated Valdez's constitutional rights and therefore warrants reversal.
The entire opinion can be found here.