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United States v. Estephane

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

November 8, 2017

UNITED STATES
v.
ELIAS ESTEPHANE

          JURY INSTRUCTIONS

         INSTRUCTIONS No. 1

         Introduction

         Members of the jury, now it is time for me to instruct you about the law that you must follow in deciding this case. I will start by explaining your duties and the general rules that apply in every criminal case. Then I will explain the elements, or parts, of the crimes that the defendant is accused of committing. Then I will explain some rules that you must use in evaluating particular testimony and evidence. And last, I will explain the rules that you must follow during your deliberations in the jury room, and the possible verdicts that you may return. Please listen very carefully to everything I say.

         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.

         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. 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. 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.

         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.

         Perform 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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 2

         Presumption of Innocence, Burden of Proof, and Reasonable Doubt

         As you know, the defendant has pleaded not guilty to the crimes 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 crimes he is accused of committing. It does not even raise any suspicion of guilt.

         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.

         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.

         The government must prove every element of the crimes 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 a reasonable doubt, say so by returning a guilty verdict. If you are not convinced, say so by returning a not guilty verdict.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 3

         Evidence Defined

         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.

         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.

         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 and questions are not evidence.

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

         INSTRUCTION NO. 4

         Consideration of Evidence

         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 tells you that certain evidence reasonably leads to a conclusion, you are free to reach that conclusion.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 5

         Direct and Circumstantial Evidence

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

         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.

         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.

         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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 6

         Credibility of Witnesses

         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 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.

         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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 7

         Number of Witnesses

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

         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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 8

         Impeachment of a Witness Other Than Defendant by Prior Conviction

         You have heard the testimony of "Frank, " "Jerry, " Howard Chisem, Asha Bailey, and Shajuan McDonald. You have also heard that before this trial, these individuals were convicted of a crime or crimes.

         These earlier convictions were brought to your attention only as one way of helping you decide how believable each witness's testimony was. Do not use it for any other purpose. It is not evidence of anything else.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 9

         Testimony of a Paid Informant

         You have heard the testimony of "Frank" and "Jerry." You have also heard that they received money from the government in exchange for providing information.

         The use of paid informants is common and permissible. But you should consider Frank and Jerry's testimony with more caution than the testimony of other witnesses. Consider whether their testimony may have been influenced by what the government gave them.

         Do not convict the defendant based on the unsupported testimony of such a witness, standing alone, unless you believe his testimony beyond a reasonable doubt.

         INSTRUCTION ...


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