1 PJI 1 | GENERAL RULES CONCERNING JURY DUTIES
It is your duty to find the facts from all the evidence in the case. To those facts you must apply the law as I give it to you whether you agree with it or not. You must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices or sympathy. That means that you must decide the case solely on the evidence before you and according to the law, as you gave your oaths to do at the beginning of this case.
In following my instructions, you must follow all of them and not single out some and ignore others; they are all equally important. And you must not read into these instructions, or into anything I may have said or done, any suggestion as to what verdict you should return — that is a matter entirely for you to decide.
The lawyers may refer to some of the governing rules of law in their arguments. If any differences appear to you between what they say and what I say in these instructions, my instructions control.
BURDEN OF PROOF
[Plaintiff] has the burden of proving [his/her] case by what is called a preponderance of the evidence. That means that [plaintiff] has to produce evidence that, considered in the light of all the facts, leads you to believe that what [he/she] claims is more likely true than not. If [plaintiff] fails to meet this burden, the verdict must be for [defendant].
The evidence from which you are to decide what the facts are consists of
(1) the sworn testimony of witnesses, here in Court or by deposition, both on direct and cross-examination, regardless of who called the witness;
(2) the exhibits that have been received into evidence; and
(3) any facts to which the lawyers have agreed or stipulated.
“Stipulated facts” means there is no controversy or dispute about their existence. You must regard and treat them as proven facts in the case.
WHAT IS NOT EVIDENCE
In reaching your verdict you may consider only the stipulations and the testimony and exhibits received into evidence. Certain things are not evidence and you may not consider them in deciding what the facts are. I will list them for you.
(1) Arguments and statements by lawyers are not evidence;
(2) Questions and objections by lawyers are not evidence;
(3) Testimony I have instructed you to disregard is not evidence; and
(4) Anything you may have seen or heard when the Court was not in session is not evidence.
DIRECT AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
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 indirect evidence, that is, proof of a fact or chain of facts from which you could draw the inference, by reason and common sense, that another fact exists, even though it has not been proven directly. You are entitled to consider both kinds of evidence. The law permits you to give equal weight to both, but it is for you to decide how much weight to give to any evidence.
CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES
In deciding what the facts are, you must consider all the evidence. In doing this, you must decide which testimony to believe and which testimony not to believe. You may disbelieve all or any part of any witness’s testimony. You might want to take into consideration such factors as
the witnesses’ conduct and demeanor while testifying;
their apparent fairness or any bias they may have displayed;
any interest you may discern that they may have in the outcome of the case;
any prejudice they may have shown;
their opportunities for seeing and knowing the things about which they have testified;
the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the events that they have related to you in their testimony;
and any other facts or circumstances disclosed by the evidence that tend to corroborate or contradict their versions of the events.
In deciding whether to believe a witness, keep in mind that people sometimes forget things. You need to consider therefore whether a contradiction is an innocent lapse of memory or an intentional falsehood, and that may depend on whether it has to do with an important fact or with only a small detail.
The weight of the evidence presented by each side does not necessarily depend on the number of witnesses testifying on one side or the other. You must consider all the evidence in the case, and you may decide that the testimony of a smaller number of witnesses on one side has greater weight than that of a larger number on the other or vice versa.
All of these are matters for you to consider in deciding the facts.
OPINION EVIDENCE, EXPERT WITNESSES
You have heard testimony from people described as experts. People who, by education and experience, have become expert in some field may state their opinion on matters in that field and may also state their reasons for the opinion.
Expert opinion testimony should be judged like any other testimony. You may accept it or reject it, and give it as much weight as you think it deserves, considering the witness’s education and experience, the reasons given for the opinion, and all the other evidence in the case.
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In this trial, these witnesses were, at times, asked hypothetical questions and they gave answers to such questions. In answering a hypothetical question, an expert witness must accept as true every asserted fact stated therein, but this does not mean that you must. If you find that assumed facts are not proven, you should disregard the answer based on the hypothetical question.
LIABILITY OF CORPORATIONS
[name], as a corporation, can act only through its employees. A corporation is responsible for the acts of its agents, servants and employees when they are acting within their authority.
The fact that the defendant is a corporation should not affect your decision. All persons are equal before the law, and corporations, whether large or small, are entitled to the same fair and conscientious consideration by you as any other person.
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on Pattern Jury Instruction 1 PJI 1
(US District Courts - 1st Circuit)!
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