Jury Instructions in the United States
State Jury Instructions: Almost every state has a set of official jury instructions covering common situations. These are called “model,” “pattern” or “approved” jury instructions.
Many states post their official instructions online. Links are compiled in Reference from Coast to Coast: Jury Instructions Update by Margi Heinen and Jan Bissett. If that doesn’t work, try a good search engine, look through the relevant state court Web site and/or call the relevant court.
Michie Jury Instructions (Lexis/Mattew Bender) provides thousands of sample Federal and state jury instructions.
You can find the titles of these official jury instruction books for each state listed under “Jury Instructions” in the subject index of Legal Looseleafs in Print and under “Civil Procedure” in Searching the Law: The States by Francis R. Doyle (last published in 2003). Alternatively, search the online catalog of a law library in the state in question or look in a legal research guide for that state.
Federal Jury Instructions: Many Federal Circuits have pattern criminal jury instructions, and some have civil jury instructions as well. These are published in the softcover pamphlets at the end of Federal Jury Practice and Instructions(Thomson/West) and in Modern Federal Jury Instructions (Lexis/Matthew Bender). Links to Federal civil and criminal jury instructions are posted by the Fifth Circuit Library and the Seventh Circuit Library. Note: The Fourth Circuit does not have court-approved pattern jury, but see Horn’s Federal Criminal Jury Instructions for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit Seminars & Publications) by Carl Horn III.
Federal jury instructions are also available on Lexis (e.g., LITGAT;FCCV03 for 3rd Circuit civil or CRTFLS;FDJYIF to search all Circuits at once) and Westlaw (FED-JI, covering all Circuits).
A few Federal district courts have their own jury instructions. Links to online editions are posted by the Seventh Circuit Library, after the Circuit-wide rules.
The leading multi-volume of Federal jury instructions sets are Modern Federal Jury Instructions (Lexis/Matthew Bender), which is available on Lexis (GENFED;MOFCIV), and Federal Jury Practice and Instructions (Thomson/West), which is on Westlaw (FED-JI or FED-JICIV for civil and FED-JICRIM for criminal). Other resources includeMichie Jury Instructions (Lexis/Mattew Bender) and the Jury Instructions Drafting Manual and Resource Guide (Legal Information Services).
There are also subject-specific jury instruction books, such as Federal Employment Jury Instructions (James Publishing) . The American Bar Association publishes many subject specific jury instruction book including Model Jury Instructions: Patent Litigation, Model Jury Instructions: Patent Litigation and Model Jury Instructions in Civil Antitrust Cases.
Transcripts of Jury Instructions: See “Court Reporters.”
See also the entries for individual courts and states in this Legal Encyclopedia.
Instructions To Jury: Practical Information
Charge to the jury (in U.S. law)
Jury Instructions Definition in the context of the Federal Court System
A judge’s directions to the jury before it begins deliberations regarding the factual questions that it must answer and the legal rules that it must apply.
Jury Instructions Explained
- Jury System
- Jury Verdict
Jury Instructions (Jury Trials)
This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of jury instructions. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Jury Trials is provided. Finally, the subject of Trials in relation with jury instructions is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.