Harris v. Lee-Pow et al.

Filing 82

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)

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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 you now: 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.                                                              3 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 courtroom. 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 case. 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 them. 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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