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2 PJI 11 | Third Circuit (US)
HB-PJI-CA03-02S1100 Download

2 PJI 11 | OPINION TESTIMONY

You have heard [will hear] testimony containing opinions from [name of witness]. In weighing this opinion testimony, you may consider [his/her] qualifications, the reasons for [his/her] opinions, and the reliability of the information supporting those opinions, as well as the factors I have previously mentioned for weighing the testimony of any other witness. The opinion of [name of witness] should receive whatever weight and credit, if any, you think appropriate, given all the other evidence in the case.

In deciding whether to accept or rely upon the opinion of [name of witness], you may consider any bias that [name of witness] may have, including any bias that may arise from evidence that [name of witness] has been or will be paid for reviewing the case and testifying [or from evidence that [name of witness] testifies regularly and makes a large portion of [his/her] income from testifying in court].

COMMENT This instruction is derived from Fifth Circuit 2.19 and former Ninth Circuit 3.7. Cf. Ninth Circuit 2.11. For a variation, see Eleventh Circuit 5.2 (adding: “When a witness has been or will be paid for reviewing and testifying concerning the evidence, you may consider the possibility of bias and should view with caution the testimony of such a witness where court testimony is given with regularity and represents a significant portion of the witness' income.”).

The instruction avoids labeling the witness as an “expert.” If the court refrains from designating the witness as an “expert” this will “ensure[] that trial courts do not inadvertently put their stamp of authority” on a witness’ opinion, and will protect against the jury’s being “overwhelmed by the so-called ‘experts’.” Hon. Charles Richey, Proposals to Eliminate the Prejudicial Effect of the Use of the Word “Expert” Under the Federal Rules of Evidence in Criminal and Civil Jury Trials, 154 F.R.D. 537, 559 (1994). See Advisory Committee Note to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (2000) (cautioning against instructing the jury that the witness is an “expert”).

The bracketed material can be used to give the instruction before the expert testifies. For example, the instruction could be given as part of the initial instruction on matters of evidence. See Instructions 1.51.7.

(Last Updated October 2017)

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