1 PJI 9 | NOTE-TAKING BY JURORS
If you wish, you may take notes during the presentation of evidence, the summations of attorneys at the conclusion of the evidence, and during my instructions to you on the law. My Courtroom deputy will arrange for pens, pencils, and paper. Remember that your notes are for your own personal use -- they are not to be given or read to anyone else.
As you see, we have a court reporter here who will be transcribing the testimony during the course of the trial. But you should not assume that the transcripts will be available for your review during your deliberations. Nor should you consider notes that you or fellow jurors may take as a kind of written transcript. Instead, as you listen to the testimony, keep in mind that you will be relying on your recollection of that testimony during your deliberations. Here are some other specific points to keep in mind about note taking:
1. Note-taking is permitted, not required. Each of you may take notes. No one is required to take notes.
2. Be brief. Do not try to summarize all of the testimony. Notes are for the purpose of refreshing memory. They are particularly helpful when dealing with measurements, times, distances, identities, and relationships. Overuse of note-taking may be distracting. You must determine the credibility of witnesses; so you must observe the demeanor and appearance of each person on the witness stand. Note-taking must not distract you from that task. If you wish to make a note, you need not sacrifice the opportunity to make important observations. You may make your note after having made an observation.
3. Do not use your notes, or any other juror’s notes, as authority to persuade fellow jurors. In your deliberations, give no more and no less weight to the views of a fellow juror just because that juror did or did not take notes. As I mentioned earlier, your notes are not official transcripts. They are not evidence, and they are by no means a complete outline of the proceedings or a list of the highlights in the trial. They are valuable, if at all, only as a way to refresh your memory. Your memory is what you should be relying on when it comes time to deliberate and render your verdict in this case. You therefore are not to use your notes as authority to persuade fellow jurors of what the evidence was during the trial. Notes are not to be used in place of the evidence.
4. Do not take your notes away from court. I repeat, at the end of each day, please leave your notes in the jury room. [Describe logistics of storing and securing notes, for example: “If you do take notes, take them with you each time you leave the courtroom and please leave them in the jury room when you leave at night. At the conclusion of the case, after you have used your notes in deliberations, a court officer will collect and destroy them, to protect the secrecy of your deliberations.”]
As you see, we have a court reporter here who will be transcribing the testimony during the course of the trial. But you should not assume that the transcripts will be available for your review during your deliberations. You must pay close attention to the testimony as it is given.
You may not take notes during the course of the trial. There are several reasons for this. It is difficult to take notes and, at the same time, pay attention to what a witness is saying and the witness’s manner while testifying. One of the reasons for having a number of persons on the Jury is to gain the advantage of your individual and collective memories so that you can then deliberate together at the end of the trial and reach agreement on the facts. While some of you might feel comfortable taking notes, other members of the Jury may not feel as comfortable and may not wish to do so. Notes might be given too much weight over memories, especially the memories of those who do not take notes. So, for those reasons, I ask that you not take notes during the trial.
Option 1 is derived from the instruction used by District Courts in Delaware. Slight variations are found in First Circuit (Criminal) 1.08 and Eleventh Circuit (Criminal) 3.1. For other variations, see Fifth Circuit 2.21 and Eighth Circuit 1.04.
Option 2 is derived from Eleventh Circuit (Criminal) 3.2. For a slight variation, see Fifth Circuit (Criminal) 1.02.
In United States v. Maclean, 578 F.2d 64 (3d Cir. 1978), the court held that the trial judge has discretion to allow jurors to take notes. It stated that if note-taking is permitted, jurors must be instructed that the notes are only aids to memory, that they are not conclusive, and they are not to be given precedence over a juror’s independent recollection of the facts. See also American Bar Association, Civil Trial Practice Standards (2007) (court ordinarily should permit jurors to take notes, but should also give a cautionary instruction that notetaking is not required and that notes are not to be used in place of the evidence).
The instruction notes that the jurors should not assume that a transcript of testimony will be available to them during deliberations. It does not say absolutely that transcripts will not be provided. This instruction is in accordance with United States v. Bertoli, 40 F.3d 1384 (3d Cir. 1994), where the court held that when the trial court decides to provide testimony to the jury during deliberations, it has discretion to do so by providing a transcript. See generally Comment 3.3.
(Last Updated October 2017)
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