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AMI 101 Cautionary Instructions

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 101
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
December 2023 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 1. Introductory Instructions
AMI 101 Cautionary Instructions
A fair trial depends on you, the jury. Therefore, you must understand how this trial will work.
Each side presents evidence and makes arguments. The plaintiff goes first, and then the defense. The attorneys will have a chance to give you their views about the evidence at trial. These are called “opening statements,” and are not evidence. They are made only to help you understand the evidence and the applicable law.
The parties will then present evidence through testimony of witnesses, exhibits, or anything else that I allow you to consider. The introduction of the evidence is governed by the law. Matters that an attorney offers to present, but that I do not allow, are not evidence. An attorney's statement is not evidence. If an attorney's statement is not based on the evidence, you should disregard it. However, admissions of fact by an attorney are binding on the attorney's client.
An attorney might object to the introduction of some evidence. I will decide if the evidence may be admitted. You are to accept my decision without question, and you are not to assume what the evidence might have been. You are not to assume that anything I say or do during trial indicates my view on the merits of this case. Any testimony that I order stricken from the record shall not be considered by you.
Sometimes the attorneys need to speak with me at my desk about legal issues outside your hearing. We will try to be brief.
During the trial, I will give you instructions. It is my duty to inform you of the law applicable to the case. It is your duty to accept and follow all my instructions as a whole. You are only to apply the law that I instruct you on; do not consider any other rule of law with which you might be familiar.
After the parties present their evidence, the attorneys will give you final remarks, called “closing arguments.” These are not evidence and only given to help you understand the evidence and the law.
After I give you the final instructions, you will go to the jury room together to discuss, or deliberate, about the case. Deliberations are private and no one but the jurors will be in the room. Your decision is your verdict.
We will take breaks during the trial, called “recesses.” Your duties as a juror continue during these recesses, even if you are away from the courtroom.
Following these rules ensures that the parties have a fair trial:
(1) Do not make up your mind during the trial about what the verdict should be but instead wait until each party has presented evidence and I have instructed you as to the law.
(2) You must not allow sympathy, prejudice, or like or dislike of any party or any attorney in this case to influence your decision.
(3) You are to decide the case based only on the evidence presented in this courtroom and the law as I instruct. You are not to consider any information from any other source.
(4) Do not communicate in any way to anyone about this case, or to anyone involved in this case, until the trial has ended. If someone tries to talk to you about the case, or about anyone involved in the case, please report it immediately.
(5) Do not communicate about this trial through an electronic device. Do not post any information about this trial on any electronic forum, including social media. (Social media may include but is not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit).
(6) You are to turn off your electronic devices when you are in the courtroom and during your deliberations. While you are permitted to use them during recesses, you are not permitted to use them to for any matter related to this case.
(7) Do not research or look up anything or anyone about this case, whether in a book or an electronic device. Do not read or listen to news stories or articles about the case whether in print or on an electronic device, or the television, or the radio. Do not visit the places involved in this case.
(8) You should avoid all news sources, social media, news televisions, or other informational media until this trial is over. While there may not be anything related to this case, if there were you might inadvertently read or hear something.
(9) During the trial, you are not to talk to any of the parties, lawyers, or witnesses involved with this case even if to say hello or be courteous. If someone saw you speaking to someone involved with the case, it might make them think you are not fair or the other parties are not fair. When someone involved in the case does not speak to you, remember it is because they are not supposed to talk to you either.
Violations of these rules can have serious consequences, including that this case might have to be tried again at a costly and wasteful price. If you become aware of any violation of these rules at all, notify court personnel immediately.
This instruction should be given immediately following the empanelling of the jury.
The Court may give its own examples in the parenthetical listed in Section 5 to remain relevant with the current social media trends.
These cautionary instructions explain in detail what the requirement that jurors consider only the evidence in court and the law as instructed means in an era of ubiquitous access to information technology. The Committee has received expressions of concern about the particular problem of juror access to information technology. The problem is widespread and well-documented. See, e.g., John Schwartz, As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up, N.Y. Times, Mar. 18, 2009, at A1 (noting examples, including case of Arkansas juror who posted Twitter messages about trial during jury service). See generally, Timothy J. Fallon, Note, Mistrial in 140 Characters or Less? How the Internet and Social Networking Are Undermining the American Jury System and What Can be Done to Fix It, 38 Hofstra L. Rev. 935 (2010) (describing multiple examples, reviewing remedies, and advocating use of comprehensive pretrial instructions that specifically mention examples of the types of technology subject to misuse); Amanda McGee, Comment, Juror Misconduct in the Twenty-First Century: The Prevalence of the Internet and Its Effect on American Courtrooms, 30 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 301 (2010) (same); Laura Whitney Lee, Comment, Silencing the “Twittering Juror”: The Need to Modernize Pattern Cautionary Jury Instructions to Reflect the Realities of the Electronic Age, 60 DePaul L. Rev. 181 (2010) (same); Ebony Nicolas, Note, A Practical Framework for Preventing “Mistrial by Twitter,” 28 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 385 (2010). For the federal response, see Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, Proposed Model Jury Instructions: The Use of Electronic Technology to Conduct Research on or Communicate About a Case (Dec. 2009), available at http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/News/2010/docs/DIR10-018-Attachment.pdf. For sample federal cautionary instructions, see 1 Kevin F. O'Malley, et al., Federal Jury Practice and Instructions, Appendix E (6th ed. 2006 & 2012 pocket part).
These instructions also explain to jurors the reason for the cautionary instructions. Because jurors are more likely to comply with what may seem to them substantial restrictions on otherwise normal behavior if they understand the purpose of those restrictions, the Committee believes it is preferable to explain to jurors the reason for the rules before giving them the rules themselves. For another example of an explanation, see Committee on Model Civil Jury Instructions Within the Eighth Circuit, Preliminary Instructions for Use at Commencement of Trial, in Manual of Model Civil Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the Eighth Circuit ch. 1 (2011).
The desirability of the portion of the instruction for jurors not to visit the scene is suggested by Diemer v. Dischler, 313 Ark. 154, 852 S.W.2d 793 (1993) (court did not instruct jurors not to visit accident scene, which omission, along with additional factors, played a role in court denying motion for new trial based on jurors' investigation of the scene).
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