United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
instructions will be in three parts: first, general rules
that define and control your duties as jurors; second, the
rules of law that you must apply in deciding whether the
Government has proven its case, and third, some rules for
your deliberations. A copy of these instructions will be
available to you in the jury room.
GENERAL RULES CONCERNING JURY DUTY
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. Your second duty is to take the law that I give you,
apply it to the facts, and decide if the Government has
proved the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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. All the
instructions are important, and you should consider them
together as a whole. 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.
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.
Presumption of Innocence, Burden of Proof, Reasonable
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.
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. 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.
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 may arise from the evidence, the
lack of evidence, or the nature of the evidence. 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 reasonable doubt, say so by returning a guilty
verdict. If you are not convinced, then say so by returning a
not guilty verdict.
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. The evidence in
this case includes only what the witnesses said while they
were testifying under oath; the exhibits that I allowed into
evidence; the stipulations that the lawyers agreed to; and
the facts that I have judicially noticed.
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
and questions are not evidence.
the trial I did not let you hear the answers to some of the
questions that the lawyers asked. Do not speculate about what
a witness might have said. These things are not evidence, and
you are bound by your oath not to let them influence your
decision in any way.
your decision based only on the evidence, as I have defined
it here, and nothing else.
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 tells you that certain evidence
reasonably leads to a conclusion, you are free to reach that
Credibility of Witnesses
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 witness's 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.
suggest some things for you to consider in evaluating each
(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 witness's memory seemed to
be. Did the witness seem able to accurately remember what
(c) Ask yourself if there was anything else that may have
interfered with the witness's 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
(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 have might influenced the witness's
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) And ask yourself how believable the witness's
testimony was in light of all the other evidence. Was the
witness's testimony supported or contradicted by other
evidence that you found believable? If you believe that a
witness's testimony was contradicted by other evidence,
remember that people sometimes forget things, and that even
two honest people who witness the same event may not describe
it exactly the same way.
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 witness's
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
more important point about witnesses. Sometimes jurors wonder
if the number of witnesses who testified makes any
difference. Do not make any decisions based solely 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
is one more general subject that I want to talk to you about
before I begin explaining the elements of the crime charged.
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. The lawyers have a duty to object
whenever they think that something is not permitted by the
rules of evidence. Those rules are designed to make sure that
both sides receive a fair trial.
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.
Remember that your decision must be based only on the
evidence that you saw and heard here in court.
State of Mind
want to explain something about proving a defendant's
state of mind.
there is no way that a defendant's state of mind can be
proved directly, because no one can read another person's
mind and tell what that person is thinking.
defendant's state of mind can be proved indirectly from
the surrounding circumstances. This includes things like what
the defendant said, what the defendant did, how the defendant
acted, and any other facts or circumstances in evidence that
show what was in the defendant's mind.
also consider the natural and probable results of any acts
that the Defendant knowingly did, and whether it is
reasonable to conclude that the Defendant intended those
results. This, of course, is all for you to decide.
Direct & Circumstantial Evidence
mentioned the terms "direct evidence" and
"circumstantial evidence" when I spoke to you at
the start of the case.
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
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 ...