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Bush v. Wal-Mart Stores East, Ltd. Partnership

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

July 16, 2019

CHARLES BUSH II PLAINTIFF
v.
WAL-MART STORES EAST, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP DEFENDANT

          JURY INSTRUCTIONS

         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 parties have proven their claims; and third, some rules for your deliberations. A copy of these instructions will be available to you in the jury room.

         I. GENERAL RULES CONCERNING JURY DUTY

         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 plaintiff has proven the defendant liable on the claim by a preponderance of the evidence and if the defendant has proven the plaintiff liable on the counterclaim by a preponderance of the evidence.

         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.

         A. Evidence

         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; and the stipulations that the lawyers agreed to.

         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.

         During the trial I did not let you hear the answers to some of the questions that the lawyers asked. Sometimes I ordered you to disregard things that you saw or heard, or I struck things from the record. You must completely ignore all of these things. Do not even think about them. Do not speculate about what a witness might have said or what an exhibit might have shown. These things are not evidence, and you are bound by your oath not to let them influence your decision in any way.

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

         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.

         B. 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.

         Let me suggest some things for you to consider in evaluating each witness's testimony.

(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 happened?
(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 lying?
(e) Ask yourself if the witness had any relationship to the plaintiff or the defendant, or anything to gain or lose from the case that might influence 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.

         These 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 deserves.

         One 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 numbers.

         C. Lawyers' Objections

         There is one more general subject that I want to talk to you about before I begin explaining the elements of the plaintiffs claims. 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.

         Do not 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.

         II. JURY DELIBERATIONS

         The first thing you should do in the jury room is choose someone to be your foreperson. This person will help to guide your discussions, and will speak for you here in court. Once you start deliberating, do not talk to the jury officer, or to me, or to anyone else except each other about the case.

         If you have any questions or messages, you must write them down on a piece of paper, sign them, and then 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 me some time to get back to you. Any questions or messages normally should be sent to me through your foreperson. One more thing about messages. Do not ever write down or tell anyone, including me, how you stand on your votes. For example, do not write down or tell anyone that you are split 4-3, or 3-4, or whatever your vote happens to be. That should stay secret until you are finished.

         a. Experiments, Research, Investigation, and ...


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