1 PJI 10 | PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE
This is a civil case. [Plaintiff] is the party [who/that] brought this lawsuit. [Defendant] is the party against [whom/which] the lawsuit was filed. [Plaintiff] has the burden of proving [his/her/its] case by what is called the preponderance of the evidence. That means [plaintiff] has to prove to you, in light of all the evidence, that what [he/she/it] claims is more likely so than not so. To say it differently: if you were to put the evidence favorable to [plaintiff] and the evidence favorable to [defendant] on opposite sides of the scales, [plaintiff] would have to make the scales tip somewhat on [his/her/its] side. If [plaintiff] fails to meet this burden, the verdict must be for [defendant]. If you find after considering all the evidence that a claim or fact is more likely so than not so, then the claim or fact has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
In determining whether any fact has been proved by a preponderance of evidence in the case, you may, unless otherwise instructed, consider the testimony of all witnesses, regardless of who may have called them, and all exhibits received in evidence, regardless of who may have produced them.
[On certain issues, called affirmative defenses, [defendant] has the burden of proving the elements of the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. I will instruct you on the facts that will be necessary for you to find on this affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is proven if you find, after considering all evidence in the case, that [defendant] has succeeded in proving that the required facts are more likely so than not so.]
[[Defendant] has also brought claims for relief against [plaintiff], called counterclaims. On these claims, [defendant] has the same burden of proof as has [plaintiff] on [his/her/its] claims.]
You may have heard of the term “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is a stricter standard of proof and it applies only to criminal cases. It does not apply in civil cases such as this. So you should put it out of your mind.
This instruction is derived from the following sources: pattern instruction used by District Judges in Camden; pattern instruction used by District Judges in Delaware; Fifth Circuit 3.1 (second paragraph); and Eighth Circuit 3.04.
It is advisable to give this instruction at both the beginning of the case and at the close of the evidence.
It is important that the jury be made aware that the preponderance standard requires an analysis and weighing of all of the evidence presented by both sides. See United States v. Montague, 40 F.3d 1251, 1254-55 (D.C. Cir. 1994):
Often, under a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, it is assumed that the trier of fact piles up the evidence arguably on the defendant’s side and determines which pile is greater.... In fact, a more accurate notion of the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard is “evidence which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not.”
(Last Updated October 2017)
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on Pattern Jury Instruction 1 PJI 10
(US District Courts - 3rd Circuit)!
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