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3 PJI 1 | Third Circuit (US)
HB-PJI-CA03-03S0100 Download


When you retire to the jury room to deliberate, you may take with you [these instructions] [your notes] [and] the exhibits that the Court has admitted into evidence. You should select one member of the jury as your foreperson. That person will preside over the deliberations and speak for you here in open court.

You have two main duties as jurors. The first one is to decide what the facts are from the evidence that you saw and heard here in court. Deciding what the facts are is your job, not mine, and nothing that I have said or done during this trial was meant to influence your decision about the facts in any way.

Your second duty is to take the law that I give you, apply it to the facts, and decide if, under the appropriate burden of proof, the parties have established their claims. It is my job to instruct you about the law, and you are bound by the oath that you took at the beginning of the trial to follow the instructions that I give you, even if you personally disagree with them. This includes the instructions that I gave you before and during the trial, and these instructions. All the instructions are important, and you should consider them together as a whole.

Perform these duties fairly. Do not let any bias, sympathy or prejudice that you may feel toward one side or the other influence your decision in any way.

As jurors, you have a duty to consult with each other and to deliberate with the intention of reaching a verdict. Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but only after a full and impartial consideration of all of the evidence with your fellow jurors. Listen to each other carefully. In the course of your deliberations, you should feel free to re-examine your own views and to change your opinion based upon the evidence. But you should not give up your honest convictions about the evidence just because of the opinions of your fellow jurors. Nor should you change your mind just for the purpose of obtaining enough votes for a verdict.

When you start deliberating, do not talk to the jury officer, to me or to anyone but each other about the case. During your deliberations, you must not communicate with or provide any information to anyone by any means about this case. You may not use any electronic device or media, such as a cell phone, smart phone [like Blackberries or iPhones], or computer of any kind; the internet, any internet service, or any text or instant messaging service [like Twitter]; or any internet chat room, blog, website, or social networking service [such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or YouTube], to communicate to anyone any information about this case or to conduct any research about this case until I accept your verdict.

You may not use these electronic means to investigate or communicate about the case because it is important that you decide this case based solely on the evidence presented in this courtroom. Information on the internet or available through social media might be wrong, incomplete, or inaccurate. Information that you might see on the internet or on social media has not been admitted into evidence and the parties have not had a chance to discuss it with you. You should not seek or obtain such information and it must not influence your decision in this case.

If you have any questions or messages for me, you must write them down on a piece of paper, have the foreperson sign them, and give them to the jury officer. The officer will give them to me, and I will respond as soon as I can. I may have to talk to the lawyers about what you have asked, so it may take some time to get back to you.

One more thing about messages. Never write down or tell anyone how you stand on your votes. For example, do not write down or tell anyone that a certain number is voting one way or another. Your votes should stay secret until you are finished.

Your verdict must represent the considered judgment of each juror. In order for you as a jury to return a verdict, each juror must agree to the verdict. Your verdict must be unanimous.

A form of verdict has been prepared for you. It has a series of questions for you to answer. You will take this form to the jury room and when you have reached unanimous agreement as to your verdict, you will fill it in, and have your foreperson date and sign the form. You will then return to the courtroom and your foreperson will give your verdict. Unless I direct you otherwise, do not reveal your answers until you are discharged. After you have reached a verdict, you are not required to talk with anyone about the case unless I order you to do so.

Once again, I want to remind you that nothing about my instructions and nothing about the form of verdict is intended to suggest or convey in any way or manner what I think your verdict should be. It is your sole and exclusive duty and responsibility to determine the verdict.

COMMENT The instruction is derived from Fifth Circuit 2.11 and 2.12, Eighth Circuit 3.07, former Ninth Circuit 4.1, and the instruction used in the District of Delaware. Cf. Ninth Circuit 3.1.

The portion of the instruction concerning electronic media is drawn from Proposed Model Jury Instructions on the Use of Electronic Technology to Conduct Research on or Communicate about a Case, prepared by the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) in December 2009. See United States v. Fumo, 655 F.3d 288, 305 (3d Cir. 2011) (“We enthusiastically endorse [the CACM] instructions and strongly encourage district courts to routinely incorporate them or similar language into their own instructions.”). CACM released an updated version of the model instructions in June 2012 (the updated model is available at http://news.uscourts.gov/revised-jury-instructionshope-deter-juror-use-social-media-during-trial). Obviously, the relevant technologies will evolve over time; users of these instructions should insert a list of current examples in the appropriate place in the instructions.

It may also be useful to remind the jurors, at this point in the case, of the initial instruction to decide the case based only on the evidence presented at trial. See Instruction 1.3; see also Fumo, 655 F.3d at 307 (finding no abuse of discretion in district court’s conclusion that no substantial prejudice resulted from juror’s exposure to extraneous information based partly on fact that “the District Court gave careful and repeated instructions to the jurors, including immediately before deliberation, that they should ‘not let rumors, suspicions, or anything else that [they] may have seen or heard outside of the court influence [their] decision in any way’”).

The Supreme Court has expressed approval of instructions that “explain the jurors’ duty to review the evidence and reach a verdict in a fair and impartial way, free from bias of any kind” and that “emphasize the group dynamic of deliberations by urging jurors to share their questions and conclusions with their colleagues.” Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 137 S. Ct. 855, 871 (2017) (quoting, as examples, the following instructions: “Perform these duties fairly. Do not let any bias, sympathy or prejudice that you may feel toward one side or the other influence your decision in any way” and “It is your duty as jurors to consult with one another and to deliberate with one another with a view towards reaching an agreement if you can do so without violence to individual judgment”).

The part of the instruction concerning unanimity may be altered if the parties consent to a non-unanimous verdict. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 48.

In the criminal case of United States v. James, 955 F.3d 336 (3d Cir. 2020), the Court of Appeals held that a jury verdict was not final until the jury was polled and the verdict accepted. It approved of the removal of a juror after the jury had been polled because the polling, combined with further inquiry, led the District Judge to have concerns about the juror’s candor, memory, and English language proficiency.

(Last Updated October 2017)

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