Amendments to criminal jury instructions.

 
FREE EXCERPT

The Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions In Criminal Cases submits the following amended and new instructions to the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases for comment. The committee proposes the following instructions:

QUALIFICATIONS INSTRUCTION

1.001 INTRODUCTION

1.01 PRELIMINARY INSTRUCTION

1.1 INTRODUCTION

2.08 VERDICT AND SUBMITTING CASE TO JURY

2.1 PRELIMINARY INSTRUCTIONS

3.13 SUBMITTING CASE TO JURY

9.1 KIDNAPPING

9.2 FALSE IMPRISONMENT

16.1 AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE

16.2 FAILURE TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT

16.3 CHILD ABUSE

FLORIDA GRAND JURY HANDBOOK

FLORIDA GRAND JURY INSTRUCTIONS

The committee invites all interested persons to comment on the proposals, reproduced in full below. Comments must be received by the committee in either hard copy or electronic format on or before January 31 The committee will review all comments received in response to the above proposal at its next meeting and will consider amendments based upon the comments received. Upon final approval of the instruction, the committee will make a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court. File your comments electronically to CrimJuryInst@flcourts.org, in the format of a Word document or, mail a hard copy of your comments to Standard Jury Instructions Committee in Criminal Cases, c/o Bart Schneider, General Counsel's Office, Office of the State Courts Administrator, 500 S. Duval Street, Tallahassee 32399-1900.

QUALIFICATIONS INSTRUCTION

Many of you have cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices such as smartphones or tablets, iPads, and laptops. Even though you have not yet been selected as a juror, there are some strict rules that you must follow about using your cell phones, electronic devices and computers.

When you are called to a courtroom, the judge will give you specific instructions on this. These rules are so important that the judge may tell you that you must turn off your cell phone or other electronic devices completely or that you cannot have your cell phone or electronic devices in the courtroom. If someone needs to contact you in case of an emergency, the judge will provide you with a phone number where you can receive messages.

If the trial judge allows you to keep your cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices, you cannot use them to take photographs, video recordings, or audio recordings of the proceedings in the courtroom or your fellow jurors. You must not use them [begin strikethrough]any[end strikethrough] device to search the Internet or to find out anything related to any cases in the courthouse.

Why is this restriction imposed? I want you to understand the reasons for these rules I have just given you. I know that, for some of you, these restrictions affect your normal daily activities and may require a change in the way you are used to communicating and perhaps even in the way you are used to learning.

All of us are depending on you to follow these rules, so that there will be a fair and lawful resolution to this case. When you are allowed to ask questions in court, which will be considered in the presence of the trial judge and the parties, the trial judge can make sure the questions and answers are proper for the case. When, however, you investigate, research, or make inquiries on your own, the trial judge has no way to make sure that the information you obtain is proper for the case. The parties likewise have no opportunity to dispute or challenge the accuracy of what you find. That is contrary to our judicial system, which assures every party the right to ask questions about and challenge the evidence being considered against it and to present argument with respect to that evidence. Any independent investigation by a juror unfairly and improperly prevents the parties from having that opportunity our judicial system promises.

Between now and when you have been discharged from jury duty by the judge, you must not [begin strikethrough]provide or receive[end strikethrough] discuss any information about your jury service [begin strikethrough]to[end strikethrough] with anyone, including friends, co-workers, and family members. You may tell those who need to know where you are that you have been called for jury duty. If you are picked for a jury, you may tell people that you have been picked for a jury and how long the case may take. However, you must not give anyone any information about the case itself or the people involved in the case. You must also warn people not to try to say anything to you or write to you about your jury service or the case. This includes face-to-face, phone or computer communications.

In this age of electronic communication, I want to stress that you must not use electronic devices or computers to talk about this case, including tweeting, texting, blogging, emailing, posting information on a website or chat room, or any other means at all. Do not send or accept any messages, including e-mail and text messages, about your jury service. You must not disclose your thoughts about your jury service or ask for advice on how to decide any case.

[begin strikethrough]After you are called to the courtroom, the judge will give you specific instructions about these matters.[end strikethrough] The [begin strikethrough]A[end strikethrough] judge will tell you when you are released from this instruction. Remember, these rules are designed to guarantee a fair trial. It is important that you understand the rules as well as the impact on our system of justice if you fail to follow them. If it is determined that any one of you has violated this rule, and conducted any type of independent research or investigation, it may result in a mistrial. A mistrial would require the case to be tried again at great expense to the parties and the judicial system. The judge may also impose a penalty upon any juror who violates this instruction. All of us are depending on you to follow these rules, so that there will be a fair and lawful resolution of every case.

NOTE ON USE

This instruction should be given in addition to and at the conclusion of the instructions normally given to the prospective jurors. The portion of this instruction dealing with communication with others and outside research may need to be modified to include other specified means of communication or research as technology develops.

1.001 INTRODUCTION

To be given when jurors are in courtroom, prior to voir dire.

In order to have a fair and lawful trial, there are rules that all jurors must follow. A basic rule is that jurors must decide the case only on the evidence presented in the courtroom. You must not communicate with anyone, including friends and family members, about this case, the people and places involved, or your jury service. You must not disclose your thoughts about this case or ask for advice on how to decide this case.

I want to stress that this rule means you must not use electronic devices or computers to communicate about this case, including tweeting, texting, blogging, e-mailing, posting information on a website or chat room, or any other means at all. Do not send or accept any messages to or from anyone about this case or your jury service.

You must not do any research or look up words, names, [maps], or anything else that may have anything to do with this case. This includes reading newspapers, watching television or using a computer, cell phone, the Internet, any electronic device, or any other means at all, to get information related to this case or the people and places involved in this case. This applies whether you are in the courthouse, at home, or anywhere else.

Many of you may have cell phones, tablets, laptops or other electronic devices with you here in the courtroom. *

* The trial judge should select one of the following two alternative instructions explaining the rules governing jurors' use of electronic devices, as explained in Note on Use 1.

* Alternative A:

All cell phones, computers, tablets or other types of electronic devices must be turned off while you are in the courtroom. Turned off means that the phone or other electronic device is actually off and not in a silent or vibrating mode. You may use these devices during recesses, but even then you may not use your cell phone or electronic device to find out any information about the case or communicate with anyone about the case or the people involved in the case. Do not take photographs, video recordings or audio recordings of the proceedings or of your fellow jurors. After each recess, please double check to make sure your cell phone or electronic device is turned off. At the end of the case, while you are deliberating, you must not communicate with anyone outside the jury room. You cannot have in the jury room any cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices. If someone needs to contact you in an emergency, the court can receive messages and deliver them to you without delay. A contact phone number will be provided to you.]

* Alternative B:

You cannot have any cell phones, tablets, laptops, or other electronic devices in the courtroom. You may use these devices during recesses, but even then you may not use your cell phone or electronic device to find out any information about the case or communicate with anyone about the case or the people involved in the case. Do not take photographs, video recordings or audio recordings of the proceedings or your fellow jurors. At the end of the case, while you are deliberating, you must not communicate with anyone outside the jury room. If someone needs to contact you in an emergency, the court can receive messages and deliver them to you without delay. A contact phone number will be provided to you.

What are the reasons for these rules? All of us are depending on you to follow these rules, so that there will be a fair and lawful resolution to this case. When you are allowed to ask questions in court, which will be considered in the presence of the...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP