Virginia Model Jury Instruction (2013)

2.050 Preliminary Instructions to Jury

Members of the jury, the order of the trial of this case will be in four stages:

1. Opening statements

2. Presentation of the evidence

3. Instructions of law

4. Final argument

After the conclusion of final argument, I will instruct you concerning your deliberations. You will then go to your room, select a foreperson, deliberate, and arrive at your verdict.

Opening Statements

First, the Commonwealth’s attorney may make an opening statement outlining his or her case. Then the defendant’s attorney also may make an opening statement. Neither side is required to do so.

Presentation of the Evidence

[Second, following the opening statements, the Commonwealth will introduce evidence, after which the defendant then has the right to introduce evidence (but is not required to do so). Rebuttal evidence may then be introduced if appropriate.]

[Second, following the opening statements, the evidence will be presented.]

Instructions of Law

Third, at the conclusion of all evidence, I will instruct you on the law which is to be applied to this case.

Final Argument

Once the evidence has been presented and you have been instructed on the law, then the attorneys may make their closing arguments. The Commonwealth’s attorney will argue first, the defendant’s attorney may reply, and the Commonwealth’s attorney may close in rebuttal.

Members of the jury, your function in the trial of this case is to reach a unanimous verdict that is based solely on the evidence and the instructions of law which you will be given after all the evidence has been presented. The law applicable to this case is given to you in these instructions and in the other instructions you will receive at the close of all evidence, and it is your duty to follow all such instructions.

No statement or ruling or remark that I may make during the course of the trial is intended to indicate my opinion as to what the facts are. It is the function of the jury to consider the evidence and determine the facts in this case.

The evidence which you are to consider consists of testimony of witnesses, any exhibits admitted into evidence, and any facts agreed upon between the parties and presented to you in the form of a stipulation. The admission of evidence in court is governed by rules of law; and from time to time, it may be the duty of the attorneys to make objections and my duty as judge to rule on those objections and decide whether or not you can consider certain evidence. You must not consider testimony or exhibits to which an objection was sustained or which has been ordered stricken. If an objection is overruled, then you may consider that evidence together with all other evidence in the case. The opening statements and closing arguments of the attorneys are intended to help you in understanding the evidence and in applying the law, but their statements are not evidence.

In your determination of what the facts are, you alone must determine the credibility of the witnesses and the weight of the evidence. You may consider the appearance and manner of the witnesses on the stand, their intelligence, their opportunity for knowing the truth and for having observed the things about which they testified, their interest in the outcome of the case, their bias, and, if any have been shown, their prior inconsistent statements, or whether they have knowingly testified untruthfully as to any material fact in the case. You should not arbitrarily disregard believable testimony of a witness. However, after you have considered all the evidence in the case, then you may accept or discard all or part of the testimony of a witness as you think proper. You should use your common sense in considering the evidence, and you may draw reasonable inferences from that evidence; but in doing so, you should not indulge in guesswork or speculation. From consideration of these things and all the other circumstances of the case, you should determine which witnesses are more believable and weigh their testimony accordingly. Until this case is submitted to you for your deliberations, you should not decide any issue in the case and you should not discuss the case with anyone or remain within hearing of anyone who is discussing it.

There will be occasional recesses during the trial. During the recesses, you should not discuss the case with your fellow jurors nor go to the scene or make any independent investigation or receive any information about the case from radio, television, the Internet, or the newspapers. Once your deliberations commence, then you must discuss the case only in the jury room when all the members of the jury are present.

Do not attempt at any time prior to the conclusion of the case to research any fact, issue, or law related to this case, whether by discussion with others, by research in a library or on the Internet, or by any other means or source. You must not use Internet maps, or any other program or device to search for and view any location discussed in the testimony. You must not search for any information about the case, or the law which applies to the case, or the people involved in the case, including the parties, the witnesses, the lawyers, or the judge. You must not communicate with anyone about the case by any other means, including by telephone, text messages, e-mail, internet chat or chat rooms, blogs, or social web sites. I expect you will inform me if you become aware of another juror’s violation of these instructions.

Just prior to your deliberations, you will be given a final instruction with regard to your selection of a leader, the conduct of your deliberations, and the forms for your verdict.

The faithful and proper performance by you of your duty is vital to the administration of justice. On behalf of the court and the litigants, we appreciate your giving your complete attention to the case as it is presented.

Thank you.

Sources & Authority