2011 WL 6470568 (Mo.Cir.) (Jury Instruction)
Susan D. HARLAN
Circuit Court of Missouri
St. Louis County
INSTRUCTION NO. 1
(1) GENERAL--JURY INSTRUCTIONS
This instruction and other instructions that I will read to you near the end of the trial are in writing. All of the written instructions will be handed to you for guidance in your deliberation when you retire to the jury room. They will direct you concerning the legal rights and duties of the parties and how the law applies to the facts that you will be called upon to decide.
(2) OPENING STATEMENTS
The trial may begin with opening statements by the lawyers as to what they expect the evidence to be. What is said in opening statements is not to be considered as proof of a fact. However, if a lawyer admits some fact on behalf of a client, the other party is relieved of the responsibility of proving that fact.
After the opening statements, the plaintiff will introduce evidence. The defendant may then introduce evidence. There may be rebuttal evidence after that. The evidence may include the testimony of witnesses who may appear personally in court, the testimony of witnesses who may not appear personally but whose testimony may be read or shown to you and exhibits, such as pictures, documents and other objects.
There may be some questions asked or evidence offered by the parties to which objections may be made. If I overrule an objection, you may consider that evidence when you deliberate on the case. If I sustain an objection, then that matter and any matter I order to be stricken is excluded as evidence and must not be considered by you in your deliberations.
(5) RULINGS OF LAW AND BENCH CONFERENCES
While the trial is in progress, I may be called upon to determine questions of law and to decide whether certain matters may be considered by you under the law. No ruling or remark that I make at any time during the trial will be intended or should be considered by you to indicate my opinion as to the facts. There may be times when the lawyers come up to talk to me out of your hearing. This will be done in order to permit me to decide questions of law. These conversations will be out of your hearing to prevent issues of law, which I must decide, from becoming mixed with issues of fact, which you must decide. We will not be trying to keep secrets from you.
(6) OPEN MINDS AND NO PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS
Justice requires that you keep an open mind about the case until the parties have had the opportunity to present their cases to you. You must not make up your mind about the case until all evidence, and the closing arguments of the parties, have been presented to you. You must not comment on or discuss with anyone, not even among yourselves, what you hear or learn in trial until the case is concluded and then only when all of you are present in the jury room for deliberation of the case under the final instructions I give to you.
(7) OUTSIDE INFLUENCES
During the trial you should not remain in the presence of anyone who is discussing the case when the court is not in session. Otherwise, some outside influence or comment might influence a juror to make up his or her mind prematurely and be the cause of a possible injustice. For this reason, the lawyers and their clients are not permitted to talk with you until the trial is completed.
(8) PROHIBITION OF JUROR RESEARCH OR COMMUNICATION ABOUT THIS CASE
Your deliberations and verdict must be based only on the evidence and information presented to you in the proceedings in this courtroom. Rules of evidence and procedure have developed over many years to make sure that all parties in all cases are treated fairly and in the same way and to make sure that all jurors make a decision in this case based only on evidence allowed under those rules and which you hear or see in this courtroom. It would be unfair to the parties to have any juror influenced by information that has not been allowed into evidence in accordance with those rules of evidence and procedure, or to have a juror influenced through the opinion of someone who has not been sworn as a juror in this case and heard evidence properly presented here.
Therefore, you must not conduct your own research or investigation into any issues in this case. You must not visit the scene of any of the incidents described in this case. You must not conduct any independent research or obtain any information of any type by reference to any person, textbooks, dictionaries, magazines, the use of the Internet, or any other means about any issues in this case, or any witnesses, parties, lawyers, medical or scientific terminology, or evidence that is in any way involved in this trial. You are not permitted to communicate, use a cell phone, record, photograph, video, e-mail, blog, tweet, text, or post anything about this trial or your thoughts or opinions about any issue in this case to any other person or to the Internet, “facebook”, “myspace”, “twitter”, or any other personal or public web site during the course of this trial or at any time before the formal acceptance of your verdict by me at the end of the case.
If any of you break these rules, it may result in a miscarriage of justice and a new trial may be required.
(9) FINAL INSTRUCTIONS
After all of the evidence has been presented, you will receive my final instructions. They will guide your deliberations on the issues of fact you are to decide in arriving at your verdict.
(10) CLOSING ARGUMENTS
After you have received my final instructions, the lawyers may make closing arguments. In closing arguments, the lawyers have the opportunity to direct your attention to the significance of evidence and to suggest the conclusions that may be drawn from the evidence.
You will then retire to the jury room for your deliberations. It will be your duty to select a foreperson, to decide the facts and to arrive at a verdict. When you enter into your deliberations, you will be considering the testimony of witnesses as well as other evidence. In considering the weight and value of the testimony of any witness, you may take into consideration the appearance, attitude and behavior of the witness, the interest of the witness in the outcome of the case, the relation of the witness to any of the parties, the inclination of the witness to speak truthfully or untruthfully and the probability or improbability of the witness’ statements. You may give any evidence or the testimony of any witness such weight and value as you believe that evidence or testimony is entitled to receive.
INSTRUCTION NO. 2
As you remember, the court gave you a general instruction before the presentation of any evidence in this case. The court will not repeat that instruction at this time. However, that instruction and the additional instructions, to be given to you now, constitute the law of this case and each such instruction is equally binding upon you. You should consider each instruction in light of and in harmony with the other instructions, and you should apply the instructions as a whole to the evidence. Words or phrases which are not otherwise defined for you as part of these instructions should be given their ordinary meaning. The order in which the instructions are given is no indication of their relative importance. All of the instructions are in writing and will be available to you in the jury room.
INSTRUCTION NO. 3
In returning your verdict you will form beliefs as to the facts. The court does not mean to assume as true any fact referred to in these instructions but leaves it to you to determine what the facts are.
INSTRUCTION NO. 4
The verdict form included in these instructions contains directions for completion and will allow you to return the permissible verdict in this case. Nine or more of you must agree in order to return any verdict. A verdict must be signed by each juror who agrees to it.
INSTRUCTION NO. 5
In these instructions, you are told that your verdict depends on whether or not you believe certain propositions of fact submitted to you. The burden is upon the party who relies upon any such proposition to cause you to believe that such proposition is more likely to be true than not true. In determining whether or not you believe any proposition, you must consider only the evidence and the reasonable inferences derived from the evidence. If the evidence in the case does not cause you to believe a particular proposition submitted, then you cannot return a verdict requiring belief of that proposition.
INSTRUCTION NO. 6
The term “negligent” or “negligence” as used in these instructions means the failure to use the highest degree of care. The phrase “highest degree of care” means that degree of care that a very careful person would use under the same or similar circumstances.
INSTRUCTION NO. 7
Your verdict must be for plaintiff if you believe:
First, defendant’s automobile came into collision with the rear of plaintiff’s automobile, and
Second, defendant was thereby negligent, and
Third, as a direct result of such negligence, plaintiff sustained damage.
Instruction No. 8
Your verdict must be for defendant unless you believe plaintiff sustained damage.
INSTRUCTION NO. 9
If you find in favor of plaintiff, then you must award plaintiff such sum as you believe will fairly and justly compensate plaintiff for any damages you believe plaintiff sustained and is reasonably certain to sustain in the future, as a direct result of the occurrence mentioned in the evidence.