Checklist for Great Jury Instructions
___ Review form instructions before drafting instructions to see whether any of them fit the issues in the case. Make sure to review recent revisions.
___ Prepare instructions well before trial so that you can focus your attention on them and avoid drafting last-minute instructions.
___ Review pleadings and discovery before drafting instructions to determine what the issues are. Reread the complaint, answer, any cross-complaints and answers, the pretrial conference order (if one was entered), answers to all contention interrogatories, all requests for admission, and any orders on any motions to see if any of the pleaded issues have been removed from the case.
___Determine who bears the burden of proof on each issue or element of each claim and affirmative defense, and prepare burden of proof instructions.
___ When drafting original instructions, use simple language, cite authority accurately, and read the instructions to non attorneys to make sure the jurors can understand them.
___ Prepare a list of both form and originally drafted instructions you plan to give in the case and compare this list with the substantive issues involved. Make sure all instructions necessary to cover the substantive issues are ready to submit.
___ Organize all proposed instructions into a sequence that makes sense for your case rather than ordering them by number.
___ Review all instructions to make sure the authority cited is accurate.
___ Remove repetitive or cumulative instructions that do not accurately recite controlling law.
___ Proofread and edit all instructions for clarity and conciseness.
___ When certain instructions are essential to your case, be prepared to offer alternative instructions if the trial judge refuses your initial proposal. Remember you need make a record on appeal because the court of appeal will ask you what instruction you offered as an alternative.
VALIDATION OF VOIR DIRE PROCESS AND EXPERIENCE WITH THE LEGAL SYSTEM
It is natural for folks to have opinions about the judicial system, lawyers, Plaintiffs, defendants, corporations and trucking companies:
– There is NO WRONG Opinion
– We all just want to learn something about your opinions/attitudes to evaluate if you are the best juror for this case. For all of these questions, remember, there are no right wrong answers; we just need to know how you really feel.
Then I begin to outline specific questions, such as:
– How many of you have been involved in the judicial system in some way? (Witness at trial, jury member, victim etc.)
How did your experience make your feel about the system in general?
– What was your specific involvement in the system? (Victim etc.)
– Do you believe that experience will influence how you decide the results of this case?
Perkins & Associates, LLC