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United States v. Clayton

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

February 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
EARL CLAYTON III DEFENDANT

          COURT'S INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JURY

         Members of the Jury:

         It is now my duty to instruct you on the rules of law that you must follow and apply in deciding this case. When I have finished you will go to the jury room and begin your deliberations.

         It will be your duty to decide whether the United States has proved beyond a reasonable doubt the specific facts necessary to find the defendant guilty of the crime charged in the Second Superseding Indictment.

         You must make your decision only on the basis of the testimony and other evidence presented here during the trial; and you must not be influenced in any way by either sympathy or prejudice for or against the defendant or the United States.

         You must also follow the law as I explain it to you whether you agree with that law or not. You must follow all of the instructions as a whole; you may not single out, or disregard, any of the court's instructions on the law.

         The indictment or formal charge against a defendant is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed by the law to be innocent. The law does not require a defendant to prove innocence or produce any evidence at all. This means that a defendant has no obligation to testify. Therefore, if a defendant does not testify during a trial, you may not draw any inference or suggestion of guilt from that fact, nor may you consider this in any way in reaching your verdict. The United States has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it fails to do so you must find the defendant not guilty.

         While the United States' burden of proof is a strict or heavy burden, it is not necessary that a defendant's guilt be proved beyond all possible doubt. It is only required that the United States' proof exclude any "reasonable doubt" concerning a defendant's guilt.

         A "reasonable doubt" is a doubt based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case.

         Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, is proof of such a convincing character that you would be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs.

         You must consider only the evidence that I have admitted in the case. The term "evidence" includes the testimony of the witnesses and the exhibits admitted in the record. Remember that anything the lawyers say is not evidence in the case. It is your own recollection and interpretation of the evidence that controls. What the lawyers say is not binding upon you.

         In considering the evidence you may make deductions and reach conclusions which reason and common sense lead you to make. You need not be concerned about whether the evidence is direct or circumstantial. "Direct evidence" is the testimony of one who asserts actual knowledge of a fact, such as an eye witness. "Circumstantial evidence" is proof of a chain of facts and circumstances indicating that the defendant is either guilty or not guilty. The law makes no distinction between the weight you may give to either direct or circumstantial evidence.

         Now, in saying that you must consider the evidence, I do not mean that you must accept all of the evidence as true or accurate. You should decide whether you believe what each witness had to say, and how important that testimony was. In making that decision you may believe or disbelieve any witness, in whole or in part. Also, the number of witnesses testifying concerning any particular dispute is not controlling.

         In deciding how much of a witness' testimony to believe, I suggest that you ask yourself a few questions: Did the witness impress you as one who was telling the truth? Did the witness have any particular reason not to tell the truth or a personal interest in the outcome of the case? Did the witness have a good memory? Did the witness have the opportunity and ability to observe accurately the things he or she testified about?

         You should also ask yourself whether there was evidence tending to prove that the witness testified falsely concerning some important fact; or, whether there was evidence that at some other time the witness said or did something, or failed to say or do ...


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