Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Requests for Jury Instructions

With Federal Civil Procedure now tested, there are two things you should know going into the MBE next month regarding jury instructions (instructions to the trial jury on the law that governs the verdict). The first relates to the rules concerning the request for jury instructions, and the second relates to the rules regarding objections to those request. Let's look at each aspect individually:

At the close of the evidence or at any earlier reasonable time that the court orders, a party may file and furnish to every other party written requests for the jury instructions it wants the court to give. Note the specifics here; namely that every other party must be furnished with the written requests. In addition, if the requests are not made at the close of evidence or prior, then after the close of the evidence, a party may file requests for instructions on issues that could not reasonably have been anticipated by an earlier time. Finally, with permission by the court, a party may file untimely requests for instructions on any issue.

The court itself has obligations in regards to jury instructions as well. The court must inform the parties of its proposed instructions and proposed action on the requests before instructing the jury and before final jury arguments. Further, it must give the parties an opportunity to object on the record and out of the jury's hearing before the instructions and arguments are delivered. The court may instruct the jury at any time before the jury is discharged.

If a party is to object to jury instructions, the party who objects to an instruction or the failure to give an instruction must do so on the record, stating distinctly the matter objected to and the grounds for the objection. The objection will be timely if made either when the court provides the opportunity to do so, or if the party was not provided the opportunity to object, if the party objects promptly after learning that a jury instruction has been given or refused.

No comments:

Post a Comment