Harris v. Lee-Pow et al.
MEMORANDUM TO COUNSEL. Signed by Judge Paul W. Grimm on 5/7/2015. (Attachments: # 1 Preliminary Jury Instructions, # 2 Final Jury Instructions, # 3 Instructions to Counsel)(kw2s, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
PRELIMINARY JURY INSTRUCTIONS3
MEMBERS OF THE JURY:
Now that you have been sworn, I will give you some preliminary instructions to guide
you in your participation in the trial.
It will be your duty to find from the evidence what the facts are. You and you alone will
be the judges of the facts. You will then have to apply to those facts the law as the court will
give it to you. You must follow that law whether you agree with it or not.
Nothing the court may say or do during the course of the trial is intended to indicate, or
should be taken by you as indicating, what your verdict should be.
The evidence from which you will find the facts will consist of the testimony of
witnesses, documents and other things received into the record as exhibits, and any facts that the
lawyers agree to or stipulate to or that the court may instruct you to find.
Certain things are not evidence and must not be considered by you. I will list them for
1. Statements, arguments and questions by lawyers are not evidence.
2. Objections to questions are not evidence. Lawyers have an obligation to their clients
to make objections when they believe evidence being offered is improper under the rules of
evidence. You should not be influenced by the objection or by the court's ruling on it. If the
objection is sustained, ignore the question. If it is overruled, treat the answer like any other. If
you are instructed that some item of evidence is received for a limited purpose only, you must
follow that instruction.
3. Testimony that the court has excluded or told you to disregard is not evidence and
must not be considered.
These preliminary instructions and final jury instructions, found infra, are the standard
instructions that I use in civil cases and do not address the substantive law of this case. Counsel
should propose instructions as to the specific law of the case and may propose additional
instructions or modifications.
4. Anything you may have seen or heard outside the courtroom is not evidence and must
be disregarded. You are to decide the case solely on the evidence presented here in the
There are two kinds of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct
proof of a fact, such as testimony of an eyewitness. Circumstantial evidence is proof of facts
from which you may infer or conclude that other facts exist. I will give you further instructions
on these as well as other matters at the end of the case, but keep in mind that you may consider
both types of evidence. It will be up to you to decide which witnesses to believe, which
witnesses not to believe, and how much of any witness's testimony to accept or reject. I will give
you some guidelines for determining the credibility of witnesses at the end of the case.
This is a civil case. The plaintiffs have the burden of proving their case by what is called
the preponderance of the evidence. That means the plaintiffs have to produce evidence which,
considered in the light of all the facts, leads you to believe that what they claim is more likely
true than not. To put it differently, if you were to put the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ evidence
on opposite sides of the scales, the plaintiffs would have to make the scales tip somewhat on
their side. If the plaintiffs fail to meet this burden, the verdict must be for the defendants.
Those of you who have sat on criminal cases will have heard of proof beyond a
reasonable doubt. That requirement does not apply to a civil case; therefore, you should put it
out of your mind.
Now, a few words about your conduct as jurors.
First, I instruct you that during the trial you are not to discuss the case with anyone,
including your fellow jurors, or to permit anyone to discuss it with you. This means that you
should not discuss the case in any way, including by posting comments to Facebook or twitter or
similar web sites or blogs about the case or your service as jurors. Until you retire to the jury
room at the end of the case to deliberate on your verdict, you simply are not to talk about this
Second, do not read or listen to anything touching on this case in any way. Again, this
includes not only the news but also posts on Facebook or twitter or similar web sites or blogs. If
anyone should try to talk to you about it, bring it to the court's attention promptly.
Third, do not try to do any research or make any investigation about this case on your
own. This means that you should not visit the site of the accident or view it on a website such as
Googlemaps, and you should not research any aspect of the case at the library or on an Internet
search engine such as Google.
Finally, do not form any opinion until all the evidence is in. Keep an open mind until you
start your deliberations at the end of the case.
If you wish, you may take notes. But if you do, leave them in the jury room when you
leave at night. And remember that they are only for your own personal use.
The trial will now begin. First, each side may make an opening statement. An opening
statement is neither evidence nor argument; it is an outline of what that party intends to prove,
offered to help you follow the evidence.
Next the plaintiffs will present their witnesses, and the defendants may cross-examine
them. Then the defendants will present their witnesses, and the plaintiffs may cross-examine
After that, the attorneys will make their closing arguments to summarize and interpret the
evidence for you, and the court will give you instructions on the law.
You will then retire to deliberate your verdict.
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