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United States v. Davis

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

July 25, 2018



         These 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 for you in the jury room.


         It is your duty to find the facts from all the evidence in the case. You must apply the law to those facts. You must follow the law I give to you whether you agree with it or not. And you must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices or sympathy. That means that you must decide the case solely on the evidence before you and according to the law, as you gave your oaths to do at the beginning of this case.

         In following my instructions, you must follow all of them and not single out some and ignore others; they are all equally important. And you must not read into these instructions, or into anything I may have said or done, any suggestion as to what verdict you should return -- that is a matter entirely for you to decide.

         The lawyers may refer to some of the governing rules of law in their arguments. However, if any differences appear to you between the law as stated by the lawyers and what I state in these instructions, you are to be governed solely by my instructions.


         The defendant is presumed innocent. The presumption of innocence remains with him unless the government presents evidence that overcomes the presumption and convinces you beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty. The defendant has no obligation to present any evidence at all or to prove to you in any way that he is innocent. 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 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, then say so by returning a guilty verdict. If you are not convinced, then say so by returning a not guilty verdict.


         The evidence from which you are to decide what the facts are consists of (I) the sworn testimony of witnesses both on direct and cross-examination, regardless of who called the witness; (2) the exhibits that have been received into evidence; and (3) any facts to which the lawyers have agreed or stipulated to or that have been judicially noticed.


         You must remember that the indictment is not evidence of any guilt. It is simply the formal way the government tells the defendant what crime he is accused of committing. It does not even raise any suspicion of guilt and you may not consider it as such. Furthermore, the following things are not evidence and you may not consider them in deciding what the facts are:

1) Arguments and statements by lawyers are not evidence;
2) Questions and objections by lawyers are not evidence;
3) Testimony I have instructed you to disregard is not evidence; and,
4) Anything you may have seen or heard when the Court was not in session is not evidence.

         STATE OF MIND

         Next, I want to explain something about proving a defendant's state of mind.

         Ordinarily, 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.

         But a 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.

         You may 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.


         There are two kinds of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct proof of a fact, such as testimony of an eyewitness. Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence, that is, proof of a fact or chain of facts from which you could draw the inference, by reason and common sense, that another fact exists, even though it has not been proven directly. You are entitled to consider both kinds of evidence. The law permits you to give equal weight to both, but it is for you to decide how much weight to give to any evidence.


         In deciding what the facts are, you must consider all of the evidence. In doing this, you must decide which testimony to believe and which testimony not to believe. You may disbelieve all or any part of any witness's testimony. You might want to take into consideration such factors as the witnesses' conduct and demeanor while testifying; their apparent fairness or any bias or prejudice they may have; any interest you may discern that they may have in the outcome of the case; their opportunities for seeing and knowing the things about which they have testified; the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the events that they have related to you in their testimony; and any other facts or circumstances disclosed by the evidence that tend to corroborate or contradict their versions of the events.

         In deciding whether to believe a witness, keep in mind that people sometimes forget things. You need to consider, therefore, whether a contradiction is an innocent lapse of memory or an intentional falsehood, and that may depend on whether it has to do with an important fact or with only a small detail.

         The weight of the evidence presented by each side does not necessarily depend on the number of witnesses testifying on one side or the other. You must consider all the evidence in the case, and you may decide that the testimony of a smaller number of witnesses on one side has greater weight than that of a larger number on the other or vice versa.

         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.

         All of these are matters for you to consider in deciding the facts.


         You have heard testimony from persons who have testified as an opinion witness. You do not have to accept the opinion. In deciding how much weight to give it, you should consider the witness's qualifications and how the witness reached his or her conclusions. Also consider the other factors discussed in these instructions for weighing the credibility of witnesses.

         Remember that you alone decide how much of a witness's testimony to believe, and how much weight it deserves.


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