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United States of America v. Joseph Dees A/K/A Joseph Lee

November 14, 2012



I. Preliminary General Instructions

Members of the jury, you have seen and heard all the evidence and the arguments of the lawyers. Now I will instruct you on the law.

You have two duties as a jury. Your first duty is to decide the facts from the evidence that you have heard and seen in court during this trial. As judges of the facts, it is your duty to determine from the evidence what actually happened in this case. That is your job and yours alone. I play no part in finding the facts. You should not take anything I may have said or done during the trial as indicating what I think of the evidence or what I think about what your verdict should be.

Your second duty is to apply the law that I give you to the facts. My role now is to explain to you the legal principles that must guide you in your decisions. You must apply my instructions carefully. Each of the instructions is important, and you must apply all of them as a whole; you must not disregard or give special attention to any one instruction; and you may not question the wisdom or correctness of any rule of law or rule of evidence I state to you. You must not substitute or follow your own notion or opinion about what the law is or ought to be.

You must apply the law that I give to you, whether you agree with it or not. In other words, do not substitute your own notion or opinion as to what the law is or ought to be.

Whatever your verdict, it will have to be unanimous. All of you will have to agree on it or there will be no verdict. In the jury room you will discuss the case among yourselves, but ultimately each of you will have to make up his or her own mind. This is a responsibility that each of you has and that you cannot avoid.

Perform these duties fairly and impartially. Do not allow sympathy, prejudice, fear, or public opinion to influence you. You should also not be influenced by any person's race, color, religion, national ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, profession, occupation, celebrity, economic circumstances, or position in life or in the community.

II. Evidence

A. What is Evidence

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

The evidence from which you are to find the facts consists of the following:

(1) The testimony of the witnesses;

(2) Documents and other things received as exhibits; and

(3) Any fact or testimony that was stipulated; that is, formally agreed to by the parties.

The following are not evidence:

(1) The indictment;

(2) Statements and arguments of the lawyers for the parties in this case;

(3) Questions by the lawyers and questions that I might have asked;

(4) Objections by lawyers, including objections in which the lawyers stated facts;

(5) Any testimony I struck or told you to disregard; and

(6) Anything you may have seen or heard about this case outside the courtroom. 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. If your experience and common sense tells you that certain evidence reasonably leads to a conclusion, you may reach that conclusion.

As I told you in my preliminary instructions, the rules of evidence control what can be received into evidence. During the trial the lawyers objected when they thought that evidence was offered that was not permitted by the rules of evidence. These objections simply meant that the lawyers were asking me to decide whether the evidence should be allowed under the rules.

You should not be influenced by the fact that an objection was made. You should also not be influenced by my rulings on objections or any sidebar conferences you may have overheard. When I overruled an objection, the question was answered or the exhibit was received as evidence, and you should treat that testimony or exhibit like any other. When I allowed evidence (testimony or exhibits) for a limited purpose only, I instructed you to consider that evidence only for that limited purpose and you must do that.

When I sustained an objection, the question was not answered or the exhibit was not received as evidence. You must disregard the question or the exhibit entirely. Do not think about or guess what the witness might have said in answer to the question; do not think about or guess what the exhibit might have shown. Sometimes a witness may have already answered before a lawyer objected or before I ruled on the objection. If that happened and if I sustained the objection, you must disregard the answer that was given.

Also, if I ordered that some testimony or other evidence be stricken or removed from the record, you must disregard that evidence. When you are deciding this case, you must not consider or be influenced in any way by the testimony or other evidence that I told you to disregard.

Although the lawyers may have called your attention to certain facts or factual conclusions that they thought were important, what the lawyers said is not evidence and is not binding on you. It is your own recollection and interpretation of the evidence that controls your decision in this case. Also, do not assume from anything I may have done or said during the trial that I have any opinion about any of the issues in this case or about what your verdict should be.

B. Direct and Circumstantial Evidence

Two types of evidence may be used in this trial, "direct evidence" and "circumstantial (or indirect) evidence." You may use both types of evidence in reaching your verdict.

"Direct evidence" is simply evidence which, if believed, directly proves a fact. An example of "direct evidence" occurs when a witness testifies about something the witness knows from his or her own senses - something the witness has seen, touched, heard, or smelled.

"Circumstantial evidence" is evidence which, if believed, indirectly proves a fact. It is evidence that proves one or more facts from which you could reasonably find or infer the existence of some other fact or facts. A reasonable inference is simply a deduction or conclusion that reason, experience, and common sense lead you to make from the evidence. A reasonable inference is not a suspicion or a guess. It is a reasoned, logical decision to find that a disputed fact exists on the basis of another fact.

For example, if someone walked into the courtroom wearing a wet raincoat and carrying a wet umbrella, that would be circumstantial or indirect evidence from which you could reasonably find or conclude that it was raining. You would not have to find that it was raining, but you could.

Sometimes different inferences may be drawn from the same set of facts. The government may ask you to draw one inference, and the defense may ask you to draw another. You, and you alone, must decide what reasonable inferences you will draw based on all the evidence and your reason, experience and common sense.

You should consider all the evidence that is presented in this trial, direct and circumstantial. The law makes no distinction between the weight that you should give to either direct or circumstantial evidence. It is for you to decide how much weight to give any evidence.

III. Witnesses

A. Credibility of Witnesses

As I stated in my preliminary instructions at the beginning of the trial, in deciding what the facts are, you must decide what testimony you believe and what testimony you do not believe. You are the sole judges of the credibility of the witnesses. Credibility refers to whether a witness is worthy of belief: Was the witness truthful? Was the witness' testimony accurate? You may believe everything a witness says, or only part of it, or none of it.

You may decide whether to believe a witness based on his or her behavior and manner of testifying, the explanations the witness gave, and all the other evidence in the case, just as you would in any important matter where you are trying to decide if a person is truthful, straightforward, and accurate in his or her recollection. In deciding the question of credibility, remember to use your common sense, your good judgment, and your experience.

In deciding what to believe, you may consider a number of factors:

(1) The opportunity and ability of the witness to see or hear or know the things about ...

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