Proposed Jury Instructions

  IN THE CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR MARION COUNTY, FLORIDA 

 

 

REDACTED, an individual, 

Plaintiff,

 

v.

 

REDACTED, INC.,

 

Defendant.

 

                                                                        /

 

 

 

 

 

CASE NO.

DEFENDANT REDACTED, INC.’S
PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTIONS

Redacted, Inc. (“Redacted”) respectfully requests that the Court give the attached Jury Instructions to the Jury during the trial of this case.  These proposed Instructions relate to the general rules that apply in every civil case, the legal issues in this case, and some rules for the jury’s deliberations.

Defendants respectfully request and reserve the right to propose or offer additional or alternative instructions as warranted by the rulings and evidence received at trial, and in view of the submissions of Plaintiff, Redacted (“Baker”).

Respectfully submitted this ____ day of November, 2007.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 1:
Preliminary Instructions Before Trial

 

You have now been sworn as the jury to try this case.  This is a civil case involving a disputed claim between the parties.  That claim and other matters will be explained to you later.  By your verdict, you will decide the disputed issues of fact.  I will decide the questions of law that arise during the trial, and before you retire to deliberate at the close of the trial, I will instruct you on the law that you are to follow and apply in reaching your verdict.  In other words, it is your responsibility to determine the facts and to apply the law to those facts.  Thus, the function of the jury and the function of the judge are well defined, and they do not overlap.  This is one of the fundamental principles of our system of justice.

Reaching a verdict is exclusively your job. I cannot participate in that decision in any way.  You should not speculate about how I might evaluate the testimony of any witness or any other evidence in this case, and you should not think that I prefer one verdict over another.  Therefore, in reaching your verdict, you should not consider anything that I say or do, except for my specific instructions to you.

Before proceeding further, it will be helpful for you to understand how a trial is conducted.  In a few moments, the attorneys for the parties will have an opportunity to make opening statements, in which they may explain to you the issues in the case and summarize the facts that they expect the evidence will show.  Following the opening statements, witnesses will be called to testify under oath.  They will be examined and cross-examined by the attorneys.  Documents and other exhibits also may be received as evidence.

After all the evidence has been received, the attorneys will again have an opportunity to address you and to make their final arguments.  The statements that the attorneys now make and the arguments that they later make are not to be considered by you either as evidence in the case or as your instruction on the law.  Nevertheless, these statements and arguments are intended to help you properly understand the issues, the evidence, and the applicable law, so you should give them your close attention.

Following the final arguments by the attorneys, I will instruct you on the law.

You should give careful attention to the testimony and other evidence as it is received and presented for your consideration, but you should not form or express any opinion about the case until you have received all the evidence, the arguments of the attorneys and the instructions on the law from me.  In other words, you should not form or express any opinion about the case until you are retired to the jury room to consider your verdict, after having heard all of these matters.

Note-Taking Permitted: If you would like to take notes during the trial, you may do so. On the other hand, of course, you are not required to take notes if you do not want to. That will be left up to you individually.

You will be provided with a note pad and a pen for use if you wish to take notes. Any notes that you take will be for your personal use. However, you should not take them with you from the courtroom. During recesses, the bailiff will take possession of your notes and will return them to you when we reconvene. After you have completed your deliberations, the bailiff will deliver your notes to me. They will be destroyed. No one will ever read your notes.

If you take notes, do not get so involved in note-taking that you become distracted from the proceedings. Your notes should be used only as aids to your memory.

Whether or not you take notes, you should rely on your memory of the evidence and you should not be unduly influenced by the notes of other jurors. Notes are not entitled to any greater weight than each juror’s memory of the evidence.

Note-Taking Not Permitted: A question has arisen as to whether jurors may take notes. You are instructed not to take notes. One of the reasons for having several persons on the jury is to gain the advantage of your individual memories concerning the evidence. A juror engrossed in note-taking may miss evidence or fail to appreciate the demeanor of a witness. Additionally, there may be a tendency for jurors to rely on others’ notes and be less attentive during the trial or during deliberations to abandon their recollections of the evidence in favor of the written notes of another.

The case must be tried or heard by you only on the evidence presented during the trial in your presence, and in the presence of the attorneys and myself.  You must not conduct any investigation of your own.  Accordingly, you must not visit any of the places described in the evidence, or the scene of the occurrence that is the subject of the trial, unless I direct you to view the scene.  Also, you must avoid reading newspaper headlines and articles relating to this case and trial.  You must also avoid seeing or hearing television and radio comments or accounts of this trial while it is in progress.

The attorneys are trained in the rules of evidence and trial procedure, and it is their duty to make all objections they feel are proper.  When a lawyer makes an objection, I will either overrule or sustain the objection.  If I overrule an objection to a question, the witness will answer the question.  When I sustain, or uphold, an objection, the witness cannot answer the question.  If I sustain an objection, you must not speculate on what might have happened, or what the witness might have said, had I permitted the witness to answer.  You should not draw any inference from the question itself.

During the trial, it may be necessary for me to confer with the attorneys out of your hearing, talking about matters of law and other matters that require consideration by me alone.  It is impossible for me to predict when such a conference may be required or how long it will last.  When such conferences occur, they will be conducted so as to consume as little of your time as necessary for a fair and orderly trial of the case.

During the trial we will take recesses.  During these recesses you shall not discuss the case among yourselves or with anyone else, nor permit anyone to say anything to you or in your presence about the case.  Further, you must not talk with the attorneys, the witnesses, or any of the parties about anything, until your deliberations are finished. In this way, any appearance of something improper can be avoided.

If during a recess you see one of the attorneys and he or she does not speak to you, or even seem to pay attention to you, please understand that the attorney is not being discourteous but is only avoiding the appearance of some improper contact with you.  If anyone tries to say something to you or in your presence about this case, tell that person that you are on the jury trying this case, and ask that person to stop.  If he or she keeps on, leave at once and immediately report this to the bailiff or court deputy, who will advise me.

After all the evidence has been presented, I will give you complete instructions regarding the law governing your deliberations.  At this time, however, I will explain some principles of law to assist you in considering the evidence.

At this time, the attorneys for the parties will have an opportunity to make their opening statements, in which they may explain to you the issues in the case and give you a summary of the facts they expect the evidence will show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Instructions Before and During Trial.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 2:
Introductory Instruction 

 

 

Members of the jury, I shall now instruct you on the law that you must follow in reaching your verdict.  It is your duty as jurors to decide the issues, and only those issues, that I submit for determination by your verdict.  In reaching your verdict, you should consider and weigh the evidence, decide the disputed issues of fact, and apply the law on which I shall instruct you, to facts as you find them from the evidence.

The evidence in this case consists of the sworn testimony of the witnesses, all exhibits received in evidence, and all facts that may be admitted or agreed to by the parties.

In determining the facts, you may draw reasonable inferences from the evidence.  You may make deductions and reach conclusions which reason and common sense lead you to draw from the facts shown by the evidence in this case.  But you should not speculate on any matters outside the evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), General Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 3:
Believability of Witnesses

 

 

You must consider all of the evidence, but that does not mean that you must accept all of the evidence as true or accurate.  You should decide whether you believe what each witness had to say, and how important that testimony was.  In making that decision you may believe or disbelieve any witness, in whole or in part. Also, the number of witnesses testifying concerning any particular dispute is not controlling.

In deciding whether you believe or do not believe any witness I suggest that you ask yourself a few questions: Did the witness impress you as one who was telling the truth?  Did the witness have any particular reason not to tell the truth?  Did the witness have a personal interest in the outcome of the case?  Did the witness seem to have a good memory?  Did the witness have the opportunity and ability to observe accurately the things he or she testified about?  Did the witness appear to understand the questions clearly and answer them directly?  Did the witness’ testimony differ from other testimony or other evidence?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases) 2005, Basic Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 4:
Impeachment of Witnesses

 

 

You should also ask yourself whether there was evidence tending to prove that the witness testified falsely concerning some important fact; or, whether there was evidence that at some other time the witness said or did something, or failed to say or do something, which was different from the testimony the witness gave before you during the trial.

The fact that a witness has been convicted of a felony offense, or a crime involving dishonesty or false statement, is another factor you may consider in deciding whether you believe the testimony of that witness.

You should keep in mind, of course, that a simple mistake by a witness does not necessarily mean that the witness was not telling the truth as he or she remembers it, because people naturally tend to forget some things or remember other things inaccurately.  So, if a witness has made a misstatement, you need to consider whether that misstatement was simply an innocent lapse of memory or an intentional falsehood; and the significance of that may depend on whether it has to do with an important fact or with only an unimportant detail.

 

 

 

 

Source: Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases) 2005, Basic Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 5:
Prejudice and Sympathy

 

 

In reaching your verdict, you are not to be swayed from the performance of your duty by prejudice, sympathy or any other sentiment for or against any party. Your verdict must be based on the evidence that has been received and the law on which I have instructed you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 6:
Judge Not Involved

 

 

Reaching a verdict is exclusively your job. I cannot participate in that decision in any way. You should not speculate about how I might evaluate the testimony of any witness or any other evidence in this case, and you should not think that I prefer one verdict over another. Therefore, in reaching your verdict, you should not consider anything that I have said or done, except for my specific instructions to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 7:
Election of Foreman

 

 

When you retire to the jury room, you should select one juror to act as foreman or forewoman to preside over your deliberations and sign your verdict.  Your verdict must be unanimous, that is, your verdict must be agreed to by each of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 8:
Exhibits

 

 

Exhibits are available for inspection by the jury.  If you would like to review an item that was entered into evidence during the trial, you may ask the bailiff to retrieve it for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 9:
Preponderance of Evidence and Burden of Proof

In this case it is the responsibility of the Plaintiff to prove every essential part of the Plaintiff’s claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.”  This is sometimes called the “burden of proof” or the “burden of persuasion.”

A “preponderance of the evidence” simply means an amount of evidence that is enough to persuade you that the Plaintiff’s claim is more likely true than not true.

In deciding whether any fact has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence you may consider the testimony of all of the witnesses, regardless of who may have called them, and all of the exhibits received in evidence, regardless of who may have produced them.

If the proof fails to establish any essential part of the Plaintiff’s claim by a preponderance of the evidence, you should find for the Defendant as to that claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:            Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases) 2005, Basic Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 10:
Florida Civil Rights Act

 

In this case the Plaintiff makes a claim under the Florida Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in the terms and conditions of their employment because of the employee’s race.

More specifically, the Plaintiff claims that the Defendant terminated her because of the Plaintiff’s race.

The Defendant denies that the Plaintiff was discriminated against in any way and asserts that Defendant was terminated for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.

In order to prevail on this claim, the Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff’s race was a substantial or motivating factor that prompted the Defendant to take that action.

You should be mindful that the law applicable to this case requires only that an employer not discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s race.  So far as you are concerned in this case, an employer may discharge an employee for any other reason, good or bad, fair or unfair, and you must not second guess that decision or permit any sympathy for the employee to lead you to substitute your own judgment for that of the Defendant even though you personally may not favor the action taken and would have acted differently under the circumstances.  Neither does the law require an employer to extend any special or favorable treatment to employees because of their race.

On the other hand, it is not necessary for the Plaintiff to prove that the Plaintiff’s race was the sole or exclusive reason for the Defendant’s decision.  It is sufficient if the Plaintiff proves that race was a determinative consideration that made a difference in the Defendant’s decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:              Adapted from Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases)                                                 2005, Federal Claims Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 11:
Same Action Defense

 

 

If you find in the Plaintiff’s favor with respect to each of the facts that the Plaintiff must prove, you must then decide whether the Defendant has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff would have been dismissed for other reasons even in the absence of consideration of the Plaintiff’s race.  If you find that the Plaintiff would have been dismissed for reasons apart from the Plaintiff’s race, then you will make that finding in your verdict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:              Adapted from Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases)                                                 2005, Federal Claims Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 12:
Compensatory Damages

 

If you find for the Plaintiff and against the Defendant on its defense, you must then decide the issue of the Plaintiff’s damages:

In considering the issue of the Plaintiff’s damages, you are instructed that you should assess the amount you find to be justified by a preponderance of the evidence as full, just and reasonable compensation for all of the Plaintiff’s damages, no more and no less.  Compensatory damages are not allowed as a punishment and must not be imposed or increased to penalize the Defendant.  Also, compensatory damages must not be based on speculation or guesswork because it is only actual damages that are recoverable.

On the other hand, compensatory damages are not restricted to actual loss of time or money; they cover both the mental and physical aspects of injury—tangible and intangible.  Thus, no evidence of the value of such intangible things as emotional and mental anguish has been or need be introduced.  In that respect it is not value you are trying to determine, but an amount that will fairly compensate the Plaintiff for those claims of damage.  There is no exact standard to be applied; any such award should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.

You should consider the following elements of damage, to the extent you find them proved by a preponderance of the evidence, and no others:

(a) Net lost wages and benefits to the date of trial; and

(b) Emotional pain and mental anguish.

You are instructed that any person who claims damages as a result of an alleged wrongful act on the part of another has a duty under the law to “mitigate” those damages—that is, to take advantage of any reasonable opportunity that may have existed under the circumstances to reduce or minimize the loss or damage.

So, if you should find from a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff failed to seek out or take advantage of a business or employment opportunity that was reasonably available under all the circumstances shown by the evidence, then you should reduce the amount of the Plaintiff’s damages by the amount that could have been reasonably realized if the Plaintiff had taken advantage of such opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:              Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases) 2005, Federal Claims                                     Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 13:
Verdict Forms

 

 

You will be given (state the number) forms of verdict, which I shall now read to you:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:             Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.
VERDICT FORM

TO THE JURY

The Jury must unanimously agree on the answers to all of the following questions:

 

QUESTION NO. 1

Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence that Plaintiff’s race was a substantial or motivating factor in Defendant’s decision to discharge Plaintiff from employment?
           Yes

             No

 

 

[Note: If you answered “No” to Question No. 1 you need not answer the remaining questions.]

 

 

QUESTION NO. 2

Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff would have been discharged from employment for other reasons even in the absence of consideration of the Plaintiff’s race?
           Yes

             No
[Note:  If you answered “Yes” to Question No. 2, you need not answer the remaining questions.]

 

 

 
QUESTION NO. 3

Do you find that the Plaintiff should be awarded damages to compensate for a net loss of wages and benefits to the date of trial?

           Yes

             No

 

If your answer is “Yes,” in what amount?    $________

QUESTION NO. 4

Do you find that the Plaintiff should be awarded damages to compensate for emotional pain and mental anguish?

           Yes

             No

If your answer is “Yes,” in what amount?    $________

SO SAY WE ALL.


Foreperson

DATED: ______________

 

 

 

Source:              Adapted from Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil Cases)                                                 2005, Federal Claims Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 14:
Verdict Forms

 

[If you find for the plaintiff[s], your verdict will be in the following form: (read form of verdict).]

 

[If you find for the defendant[s], your verdict will be in the following form: (read form of verdict).]

When you have agreed on your verdict, the foreman or forewoman, acting for the jury, should date and sign the appropriate form of verdict.

You may now retire to consider your verdict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:             Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.

 

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 15:
Jury Deadlocked

 

Members of the jury, it is your duty to agree on a verdict if you can do so without violating conscientiously held convictions that are based on the evidence.  No juror, from mere pride of opinion hastily formed or expressed, should refuse to agree.  Yet, no juror, simply for the purpose of terminating the case, should acquiesce in a conclusion that is contrary to his own conscientiously held view of the evidence.  You should listen to each other’s views, talk over your differences of opinion in a spirit of fairness and candor and, if possible, resolve your differences and come to a common conclusion, so that a verdict may be reached and this case may be disposed of.

You may retire to the jury room for further deliberations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.

DEFENDANT’S PROPOSED JURY INSTRUCTION NO. 16:
Instruction Upon Discharge

 

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the parties, lawyers and the people of the State of Florida, I wish to thank you for your time and consideration of this case.

I also wish to advise you of some very special privileges enjoyed by jurors.

No juror can be required to talk about the discussions that occurred in the jury room, except by court order.  For many centuries, our society has relied upon juries for consideration of difficult cases.  We have recognized for hundreds of years that a jury’s deliberations, discussions and votes should remain their private affair as long as they wish it.  Therefore, the law gives you a unique privilege not to speak about the jury’s work.

The lawyers and their representatives are not permitted to initiate any communication with you about the trial.  However, you may speak to the lawyers or anyone else about the trial.  You also have the right to refuse to speak with anyone.  A request may come from those who are simply curious, or from those who might seek to find fault with you.  It will be up to you to decide whether to preserve your privacy as a juror.

 

 

 

 

Source:             Florida Standard Jury Instructions (2004), Closing Instructions.