Judge James Todd: Proposed CRIMINAL Jury Instructions
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE

WESTERN DIVISION


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                    Plaintiff,

 vs.                                                                               CRIMINAL NO.  

Defendant.


JURY INSTRUCTIONS


1.01

(1)   Members of the jury, now it is time for me to instruct you about the law that you must follow in deciding this case.

(2)   Please listen very carefully to everything I say.

 

1.02

(1)   You have two main duties as jurors. The first one is to decide what the facts are from the evidence that you saw and heard here in court. Deciding what the facts are is your job, not mine, and nothing that I have said or done during this trial was meant to influence your decision about the facts in any way.

(2)   Your second duty is to take the law that I give apply it to the facts, and decide if the government has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is my job to instruct you about the law, and you are bound by the oath that you took at the beginning of the trial to follow the instructions that I give you, even if you personally disagree with them.

(3)   The lawyers have talked about the law during their arguments. But if what they said is different from what I say, you must follow what I say. What I say about the law controls.

(4)   Perform these duties fairly. Do not let any bias, sympathy or prejudice that you may feel toward one side or other influence your decision in any way.

 

1.03

(1)   As you know, the defendant has pleaded not guilty to the crime charged in the indictment. The indictment is not any evidence at all of guilt. It is just the formal way that the government tells the defendant what crime he is accused of committing. It does not even raise any suspicion of guilt.

(2)   Instead, the defendant starts the trial with a clean slate, with no evidence at all against him, and the law presumes that he is innocent. This presumption of innocence stays with him unless the government presents evidence here in court that overcomes the presumption, and convinces you beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty.

(3)   This means that the defendant has no obligation to present any evidence at all, or to prove to you in any way that he is innocent. it is up to the government to prove that he is guilty, and this burden stays on the government from start to finish. You must find the defendant not guilty unless the government convinces you beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty.

(4)   The government must prove every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean proof beyond all possible doubt. Possible doubts or doubts based purely on speculation are not reasonable doubts. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense. It nay arise from the evidence, the lack of evidence, or the nature of the evidence.

(5)   Proof beyond a reasonable doubt means proof which is so convincing that you would not hesitate to rely and act on it in making the most important decisions in your own lives. If you are convinced that the government has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, say so by returning a guilty verdict. If you are not convinced, say so by returning a not guilty verdict.

 

1.04

(1)   You must make your decision based only on the evidence that you saw and heard here in court. Do not let rumors, suspicions, or anything else that you may have seen or heard outside of court influence your decision in any way.

(2)   The evidence in this case includes only what the witnesses said while they were testifying under oath; the exhibits that I allowed into evidence; and any stipulations that the lawyers agreed to.

(3)   Nothing else is evidence. The lawyers' statements and arguments are not evidence. Their questions and objections are not evidence. My legal rulings are not evidence.  And my comments are not evidence.

(4)   Make your decision based only on the evidence, as I have defined it here, and nothing else.

 

1.05

(1)   You should use your common sense in weighing the evidence. Consider it in light of your everyday experience with people and events, and give it whatever weight you believe it deserves.

 

1.06

(1)   Now, some of you may have heard the terms "direct evidence" and "circumstantial evidence."

(2)   Direct evidence is simply evidence like the testimony of an eyewitness which, if you believe it, directly proves a fact. If a witness testified that he saw it raining outside, and you believed him, that would be direct evidence that it was raining.

(3)   Circumstantial evidence is simply a chain of circumstances that indirectly proves a fact. If someone walked into the courtroom wearing a raincoat covered with drops of water and carrying a wet umbrella, that would be circumstantial evidence from which you could conclude that it was raining.

(4)   It is your job to decide how much weight to give the direct and circumstantial evidence. The law makes no distinction between the weight that you should give to either one, or say that one is any better evidence than the other. You should consider all the evidence, both direct and circumstantial, and give it whatever weight you believe it deserves.

 

1.07

(1) Another part of your job as jurors is to decide how credible or believable each witness was. This is your job, not mine. It is up to you to decide if a witnessís testimony was believable, and how much weight you think it deserves. You are free to believe everything that a witness said, or only part of it, or none of it at all. But you should act reasonably and carefully in making these decisions.

(2)   Let me suggest some things for you to consider in evaluating each witnessís testimony.

(A)   Ask yourself if the witness was able to clearly see or hear the events. Sometimes even an honest witness may not have been able to see or hear what was happening, and may make a mistake.

(B)   Ask yourself how good the witnessís memory seemed to be. Did the witness seem able to accurately remember what happened?

(C)   Ask yourself if there was anything else that may have interfered with the wi1 ability to perceive or remember the events.

(D)   Ask yourself how the witness acted while testifying. Did the witness appear honest? Or did the witness appear to be lying?

(E)   Ask yourself if the witness had any relationship to the government or the defendant, or anything to gain or lose from the case, that might influence the witnessís testimony. Ask yourself if the witness had any bias, or prejudice, or reason for testifying that might cause the witness to lie or to slant the testimony in favor of one side or the other.

(F)   Ask yourself if the witness testified inconsistently while on the witness stand, or if the witness saic or did something [ failed to say or do something] at any other time that is inconsistent with what the witness said while testifying. If you believe that the witness was inconsistent, ask yourself if this makes the witnessís testimony less believable. Sometimes it may; other times it may not. Consider whether the inconsistency was about something important, or about some unimportant detail. Ask yourself if it seemed like an innocent mistake, or if it seemed deliberate.]

(G)   And ask yourself how believable the witnessís testimony was in light of all the other evidence. Was the witnessís testimony supported or contradicted by other evidence that you found believable? If you believe that a witnessís testimony was contradicted by other evidence, remember that people sometimes forget thin and that even two honest people who witness the same event may not describe it exactly the same way.

(H)   These are only some of the things that you may consider in deciding how believable each witness was. You may also consider other things that you think shed some light on the witnessís believability. Use your common sense and your everyday experience in dealing with other people. And then decide what testimony you believe, and how much weight you think it deserves.

 

1.08

(1)   One more point about the witnesses. Sometimes jurors wonder if the number of witnesses who testified makes any difference.

(2)   Do not make any decisions based only on the number of witnesses who testified. What is more important is how believable the witnesses were, and how much weight you think their testimony deserves. Concentrate on that, not the numbers.

 

1.09

(1)   The lawyers for both sides objected to some of the things that were said or done during the trial. Do not hold that against either side because the lawyers have a duty to object whenever they think that something is not permitted by the rules of evidence.

(2)   And do not interpret my rulings on their objections as any indication of how I think the case should be decided. My rulings were based on the rules of evidence, not on how I feel about the case.

2.01

(1)   That concludes the part of my instructions explaining your duties and the general rules that apply in every criminal case. In a moment, I will explain the elements of the crimes that the defendant is accused of committing.

(2)   But before I do that, I want to emphasize that the defendant is only on trial for the particular crime charged in the indictment. Your job is limited to deciding whether the government has proved the crime charged.

(3)   Also keep in mind that whether anyone else should be prosecuted and convicted for this crime is not a proper matter for you to consider. The possible guilt of others is no defense to a criminal charge. Your job is to decide if the government has proved this defendant guilty. Do not let the possible guilt of others influence your decision in any way.

 

3-5

The indictment names defendants who are on trial together. In reaching a verdict, however, you must bear in mind that guilt i individual. Your verdict as to this defendant must be determined separately with respect to him, solely on the evidence, or lack of evidence, presented against him without regard to the guilt or innocence of anyone else.

In addition, some of the evidence in this case was limited to one defendant. Let me emphasize that any evidence admitted solely against one defendant may be considered only as against that defendant and may not in any respect enter into your deliberations on any other defendant.

 

2.02

(1)   Count ________ of the indictment accuses the defendant of __________________________ in violation of federal law. For you to find the defendant guilty of this crime, you must be convinced that the government has proved each and every one of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

(A)   First, that the defendant (fully define the prohibited acts and/or results required to convict).

(B)   Second, that the defendant did so (fully define the precise mental state required to convict).

[(C)   Third, that (fully define any other elements required to convict.]

[(2)   Insert applicable definitions of terms used here.]

(3)   If you are convinced that the government  has proved all of these elements, say so by returning a guilty verdict on this charge. If you have a reasonable doubt about any one of these elements, then you must find the defendant no guilty of this charge.

[(4)   Insert applicable explanations of any matters not required to convict here.]

 

2.04

(1)   Next, I want to say a word about the date mentioned in the indictment.

(2)   The indictment charges that the crime happened "on or about" ______________________________.  The government does not have to prove that the crime happened on that exact date. But the government must prove that the crime happened reasonably close to that date.

 

3-11

In addition to the foregoing elements of the offense, you must consider whether any act in furtherance of the crime occurred within the Western District of Tennessee.

You are instructed that the Western District of Tennessee encompasses __________________, Tennessee.

In this regard, the government need not prove that the crime itself was committed in this district or that the defendants themselves were present here.  It is sufficient to satisfy this element if any act in furtherance of the crime occurred within this district. If you find that the government has failed to prove that any act in furtherance of the crime occurred within this district -- or if you have a reasonable doubt on this issue -- then you must acquit.

 

6.01

(1)   That concludes the part of my instructions explaining the elements of the crime.  Next I will explain the defendant's position.

(2)   The defense says _________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

______________________________.

 

7.02A

(1)   A defendant has an absolute right not to testify [or present evidence].  The fact that he did not testify [or present any evidence] cannot be considered by you in any way.  Do not even discuss it in your deliberations.

(2)   Remember that it is up to the government to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  It is not up to the defendant to prove that he is innocent.

 

7.02B

(1)   You have heard the defendant testify.  Earlier, I talked to you about the "credibility" or the "believability" of the witnesses.  And I suggested some things for you to consider in evaluating each witness's testimony.

(2)   You should consider those same things in evaluating the defendant's testimony.

 

8.01

(1)   That concludes the part of my instructions explaining the rules for considering some of the testimony and evidence. Now let me finish up by explaining some things about your deliberations in the jury room, and your possible verdicts.

(2)   The first thing that you should do in the jury room is choose someone to be your foreperson. This person will help to guide your discussions, and will speak for you here in court.

(3)   Once you start deliberating, do not talk to the jury officer, or to me, or to anyone else except each other about case. If you have any questions or messages, you must write them down on a piece of paper, sign them, and then give them to the jury officer. The officer will give them to me, and I will respond as soon as I can. I may have to talk to the lawyers about what you have asked, so it may take me some time to get back to you. questions or messages normally should be sent to me through your foreperson.

 

8.02

(1)   Remember that you must make your decision based only on the evidence that you saw and heard here in court.  Do not try to gather any information about the case on your own while you are deliberating.

(2)   For example, do not conduct any experiments inside or outside the jury room; do not bring any books, like a dictionary, or anything else with you to help you with your deliberations; do not conduct any independent research, reading or investigation about the case; and do not visit any of the places that were mentioned during the trial.

(3)   Make your decision based only on the evidence that you saw and heard here in court.

 

8.03

(1)   Your verdict, whether it is guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous.

(2)   To find the defendant guilty, every one of you must agree that the government has overcome the presumption of innocence with evidence that proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

(3)   To find him not guilty, every one of you must agree that the government has failed to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt.

(4)   Either way, guilty or not guilty, your verdict must be unanimous.

 

8.04

(1)   Now that all the evidence is in and the arguments are completed, you are free to talk about the case in the jury room. In fact, it is your duty to talk with each other about the evidence, and to make every reasonable effort you can to reach unanimous agreement. Talk with each other, listen carefully and respectfully to each otherís views, and keep an open mind as you listen to what your fellow jurors have to say. Try your best to work out your differences. Do not hesitate to change your mind if you are convinced that other jurors are right and that your original position was wrong.

(2)   But do not ever change your mind just because other jurors see things differently, or just to get the case over with. In the end, your vote must be exactly thatóóyour own vote. It is important for you to reach unanimous agreement, but only if you can do so honestly and in good conscience.

(3)   No one will be allowed to hear your discussions in the jury room, and no record will be made of what you say. So you should all feel free to speak your minds.

(4)   Listen carefully to what the other jurors have to say, and then decide for yourself if the government has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

8.05

(1)   If you decide that the government has proved the defendant guilty,  then it will be my job to decide what the appropriate punishment should be.

(2)   Deciding what the punishment should be is my job, not yours. It would violate your oaths as jurors to even consider the possible punishment in deciding your verdict.

(3)   Your job is to look at the evidence and decide if the government has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

8.06

(1)   I have prepared a verdict form that you should use to record your verdict.  The form reads as follows:  ______________________________________________.

(2)   If you decide that the government has proved the charge against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, say so by having your foreperson mark the appropriate place on the form.  If you decide that the government has not proved the charge against him beyond a reasonable doubt, say so by having your foreperson mark the appropriate place on the form.  Your foreperson should then sign the form, put the date on it, and return it to me.

 

8.09

(1)   Let me finish up by repeating something I said to you earlier. Nothing that I have said or done during this trial was meant to influence your decision in any way.  You decide for yourselves if the government has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


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