Jury Instructions

  • Jury instructions not very controversial in the abstract, since a jury does need to be told what legal framework to apply.
  • Both sides submit jury instructions for use at end of trial (submit at beginning)--judge will borrow from one or both and use own and those will be used at close of trial (assuming trial follows pattern originally envisioned).
  • Lots of “approved jury instructions” (in CA, for example).
    • Fights over “as applied,” so generally like to use what was used in the past (after all, they have survived appeal in past).
  • Judge can comment on evidence to jury, credibility, etc.
    • Why do we allow it at all?
    • Because dates back to a time when conception of jury was different, when juries were picked for their standing in the community and knowledge of the underlying factual background and character.
    • So less worried about swaying them, as they are equals of judge.
    • But more democratic juries today are different—so this might present more problems in reality today...
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