United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
of the jury, now it is time for me to instruct you about the
law that you must follow in deciding this case. 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 to you in the jury room.
GENERAL RULES CONCERNING JURY DUTY
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.
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.
lawyers may talk about the law during their closing
arguments. But if what they said is different from what I
say, you must follow what I say. What I say about the law
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.
Presumption of Innocence, Burden of Proof, Reasonable
you know, the Defendant has pleaded not guilty to the crime
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 crime he is accused of
committing. It does not 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.
presumption 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.
Government must prove every element of the crime 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.
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.
evidence in this case includes only what the witnesses said
while they were testifying under oath and the exhibits that I
allowed into evidence.
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.
your decision based only on the evidence, as I have defined
it here, and nothing else.
During the trial, I did not let you hear the answers to some
of the questions that the lawyers asked. Do not speculate
about what a witness might have said. These things are not
evidence, and you are bound by your oath not to let them
influence your decision in any way.
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
jury is also 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.
Direct & Circumstantial Evidence
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
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.
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.
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, only part
of it, or none of it at all. But you should act reasonably
and carefully in making these decisions.
me suggest some things for you to consider in evaluating each
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
b) Ask yourself how good the witness's memory seemed to
be. Did the witness seem able to accurately remember what
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
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, prejudice, or
reason for testifying that might cause the ...