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United States v. Watts

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

December 19, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DANTE DEWAYNE WATTS CARLOS CATALAN, Defendants.

          JURY INSTRUCTIONS

         INTRODUCTION - 1.01

         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 crime 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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 1 - 1.02

         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 may have talked about the law during this case. 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. 2-1.03

         As you know, the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged in the second superseding indictment. The second superseding indictment is not any evidence at all of guilt. It is just the formal way that the government tells a defendant what crime he is accused of committing. It does not even raise any suspicion of guilt.

         Instead, each 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 each defendant not guilty unless the government convinces you beyond a reasonable doubt that each 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 - 1.04

         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 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.

         During the trial I did not let you hear the answers to some of the questions that the lawyers asked. I also ruled that you could not see some of the exhibits that the lawyers wanted you to see. And 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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 4 -1.05

         You are to consider only the evidence in the case. You should use your common sense in weighing the evidence. Consider the evidence 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.

         In our lives, we often look at one fact and conclude from it that another fact exists. In law we call this an "inference." A jury is allowed to make reasonable inferences, unless otherwise instructed. Any inferences you make must be reasonable and must be based on the evidence in the case.

         The existence of an inference does not change or shift the burden of proof from the government to a defendant.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 5 -1.06

         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 -1.07

         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 government 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) Ask yourself if the witness testified inconsistently while on the witness stand, or if the witness said or did something (or failed to say or do something) at any other time that is inconsistent with what the witness said while testifying. If you believe that the witness was inconsistent, ask yourself if this makes the witness's testimony less believable. Sometimes it may; other times it may not. Consider whether the inconsistency was about something important, or about some unimportant detail. Ask yourself if it seemed like an innocent mistake, or if it seemed deliberate.

         (G) 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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 7 -1.08

         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. 8-1.09

         There 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.

         And 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.

         That concludes the part of my instructions explaining your duties and the general rules that apply in every criminal case. In a moment, I will explain the elements of the crime that the defendant is accused of committing.

         But before I do that, I want to emphasize that the defendants are only on trial for the particular crimes charged in the second superseding indictment. Your job is limited to deciding whether the government has proved the crimes charged.

         Also keep in mind that whether anyone else should be prosecuted and convicted for this crime is not a proper matter for you to consider. The possible guilt of others is no defense to a criminal charge. Your job is to decide if the government has proved each defendant guilty. Do not let the possible guilt of others influence your decision in any way.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 9 - 2.01D

         Both defendants have been charged in Count 1, and Defendant Watts has also been charged with additional crimes. I will explain to you in more detail shortly which defendants have been charged with which crimes. But before I do that, I want to emphasize several things.

         The number of charges is no evidence of guilt, and this should not influence your decision in any way. And in our system of justice, guilt or innocence is personal and individual. It is your duty to separately consider the evidence against each defendant on each charge, and to return a separate verdict for each one of them. For each one, you must decide whether the government has presented proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular defendant is guilty of a particular charge.

         Your decision on any one defendant or one charge, whether it is guilty or not guilty, should not influence your decision on any of the other defendants or charges.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 10 -14.05

         Count 1 of the second superseding indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, methamphetamine, a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, and a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl. It is a crime for two or more persons to conspire, or agree, to commit a drug crime, even if they never actually achieve their goal.

         A conspiracy is a kind of criminal partnership. For you to find any one of the defendants guilty of the conspiracy charge, the government must prove each and every one ...


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