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3 PJI 3 | Third Circuit (US)
HB-PJI-CA03-03S0300 Download

3 PJI 3 | READ-BACKS OF TRIAL TESTIMONY

At your request, I have decided to have [a transcript of ] [describe the testimony] read [provided] to you in order to assist you in your deliberations. I remind you that you must focus on all of the testimony and evidence presented at the trial. You may not give undue weight to the testimony that is read back to you [provided to you].
COMMENT The instruction contains a bracketed alternative for allowing the jury to receive a transcript of the testimony that the jurors request to re-hear. On allowing read-backs and transcripts of testimony, see United States v. Bertoli, 40 F.3d 1384, 1400 (3d Cir. 1994), where the court stated that two concerns may arise when a jury requests a read-back of testimony:
(1) such requests may slow the trial when the requested testimony is lengthy; (2) if read only a portion of testimony, the jury may give undue weight to that portion. The Bertoli court held, however, that “unless a trial court's refusal to read back testimony is supported by one of these two concerns, a trial judge abuses his discretion by denying the [jury’s] request.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). See, e.g., United States v. Shabazz, 564 F.3d 280, 285 (3d Cir. 2009) (it was error to deny jury’s request for read-back of testimony that “ran no longer than 25 minutes” and “was not peripheral, as [the witness] was both the only witness to link Shabazz directly to the robbery who was not testifying in connection with a plea agreement and the only one who expressed some uncertainty about his identification”); United States v. Kolodesh, 787 F.3d 224, 238-39 (3d Cir. 2015) (there was no abuse of discretion, “let alone... plain error,” in trial court’s failure to halt proceedings until it could provide testimony transcripts requested by the jury, or in trial court’s refusal to provide edited portions rather in than full transcripts, or in trial court’s statement to jury that as to one witness, only audio playback was available and not a transcript). The Bertoli court further held that a trial court is within its discretion in providing a transcript of the requested testimony. The Bertoli court suggested that any transcript or read-back should be accompanied by an instruction “to focus on the entire testimony and evidence.” Bertoli, 40 F.3d at 1401.

(Last Updated October 2017)

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