United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS
that you have heard the evidence and the argument, it is my
duty to instruct you on the law.
given you copies of the Verdict Form on which you will answer
specific questions. Please take a few minutes to read the
Verdict Form, because the instructions I am about to give you
will help you answer those questions.
you retire to the jury room to deliberate, you may take these
instructions with you, along with your notes, the exhibits
that the Court has admitted into evidence, and the Verdict
Form. You should select one member of the jury as your
foreperson. That person will preside over the deliberations
and speak for you here in open Court.
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
second duty is to take the law that I give you, apply it to
the facts, and decide if, under the appropriate burden of
proof, the parties have established their claims. In other
words, it is your duty to determine from the evidence what
actually happened in this case, applying the law as I now
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. This includes the instructions
that I gave you before and during the trial, and these
instructions. All the instructions are important, and you
should consider them together as a whole; do not disregard or
give special attention to any one instruction; and do not
question the wisdom of any rule of law or rule of evidence I
state. In other words, do not substitute your own notion or
opinion as to what the law is or ought to be.
these duties fairly. Do not let any bias, sympathy or
prejudice that you may feel toward one side or the other
influence your decision in any way.
jurors, you have a duty to consult with each other and to
deliberate with the intention of reaching a verdict. Each of
you must decide the case for yourself, but only after a full
and impartial consideration of all of the evidence with your
fellow jurors. Listen to each other carefully. In the course
of your deliberations, you should feel free to re-examine
your own views and to change your opinion based upon the
evidence. But you should not give up your honest convictions
about the evidence just because of the opinions of your
fellow jurors. Nor should you change your mind just for the
purpose of obtaining enough votes for a verdict.
you start deliberating, do not talk to the jury officer, to
me, or to anyone but each other about the case. During your
deliberations, you must not communicate with or provide any
information to anyone by any means about this case. You may
not use any electronic device or media, such as a cell phone,
a smart phone like Blackberries, Droids, or iPhones, or a
computer of any kind; the internet, any internet service, or
any text or instant messaging service like Twitter; or any
internet chat room, blog, website, or social networking
service such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, or
YouTube, to communicate to anyone any information about this
case or to conduct any research about this case until I
accept your verdict.
have any questions or messages for me, you must write them
down on a piece of paper, have the foreperson sign them, and
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 some
time to get back to you.
more thing about messages: Never write down or tell anyone
how you stand on your votes. For example, do not write down
or tell anyone that a certain number is voting one way or
another. Your votes should stay secret until you are
verdict must represent the considered judgment of each juror.
In order for you as a jury to return a verdict, each juror
must agree to the verdict. Your verdict must be unanimous.
Verdict Form has been prepared for you. It has a series of
questions for you to answer. You will take this form to the
jury room and when you have reached unanimous agreement as to
your verdict, you will fill it in, and have your foreperson
date and sign the form. You will then return to the courtroom
and your foreperson will give your verdict. Unless I direct
you otherwise, do not reveal your answers until you are
discharged. After you have reached a verdict, you are not
required to talk with anyone about the case unless I order
you to do so.
again, I want to remind you that nothing about my
instructions and nothing about the form of verdict is
intended to suggest or convey in any way or manner what I
think your verdict should be. It is your sole and exclusive
duty and responsibility to determine the verdict.
mentioned the word “evidence.” The
“evidence” in this case consists of the testimony
of witnesses, the documents and other physical items, if any,
received as exhibits, and any facts stipulated by the
for parties have agreed to the legal admissibility of various
exhibits. This means that these exhibits meet the
requirements of the rules of evidence and therefore have been
admitted for your consideration. This does not mean that the
parties have agreed as to the inferences or conclusions that
you should or may draw from any exhibit.
is Not Evidence?
following things are not evidence:
Statements, arguments, questions and comments by the lawyers
are not evidence.
Likewise, objections are not evidence. Lawyers have every
right to object when they believe something is improper. You
should not be influenced by the objection. If I sustained an
objection to a question, you must ignore the question and
must not try to guess what the answer might have been.
testimony that I ordered stricken from the record, or told
you to disregard, is not evidence and you must not consider
any such matter.
Anything you saw or heard about this case outside the
courtroom is not evidence. You must decide the case only on
the evidence presented here in the courtroom. Do not let
rumors, suspicions, or anything else that you may see or hear
outside of court influence your decision in any way.
Inferences, and Common Sense
you may consider only the evidence in the case in arriving at
your verdict, you are permitted to draw such reasonable
inferences from the testimony and exhibits you feel are
justified in the light of your common experience, reason and
and Circumstantial Evidence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sympathy and Prejudice
not allow sympathy or personal feelings to influence your
determination. Your duty is to decide the case solely on the
basis of the evidence or lack of evidence and the law as I
have instructed you, without bias, prejudice, or sympathy for
or against the parties or their counsel. Both the parties and
the public expect that you will carefully and impartially
consider all of the evidence in the case, follow the law as
stated by the court, and reach a just verdict regardless of
Admitted for a Limited Purpose
certain instances evidence may be admitted only for a
particular purpose and not generally for all purposes.
Whenever evidence was admitted for a limited purpose,
consider it only for that purpose, and no other purpose.
notes are not evidence in the case and must not take
precedence over your independent recollection of the
evidence. Notes are only an aid to your recollection and are
not entitled to greater weight than your recollection of what
the evidence actually is. You should not disclose any notes
taken to anyone other than a fellow juror.
were not obligated to take notes. If you did not take notes
you should not be influenced by the notes of another juror,
but instead should rely upon your own recollection of the
Credibility of Witnesses / Weight of Testimony in
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 which the witness testified;
(2) The quality of the witness' knowledge, understanding,
(3) The witness' appearance, behavior, and manner while
(4) Whether the witness has an interest in the outcome of the
case or any motive, bias, or prejudice;
(5) Any relation the witness may have with a party in the
case and any effect the verdict ...