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WPI 6.05 Before Conducting Experiments or Demonstrations

6 WAPRAC WPI 6.05Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 6.05 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part I. General Instructions
Chapter 6. Oral Instructions During Trial
WPI 6.05 Before Conducting Experiments or Demonstrations
The(designated party)will now conduct [an experiment] [a demonstration] in this courtroom.
Observe the conditions under which the [experiment] [demonstration] is made. These conditions may or may not duplicate or approximate the conditions or other circumstances that existed at the time and place of the incident involved in this case. It is for you to decide what weight or value you give to this [experiment] [demonstration] and how and to what extent you apply it to the facts in this case.
Fill in the blank with the party conducting the experiment or demonstration. Use the bracketed phrases as appropriate.
The legal standards for conducting demonstrations are the same as for conducting experiments. See generally Tegland, 5 Washington Practice, Evidence Law and Practice § 402.32 (6th ed.).
Experimental evidence may be admitted to prove the theory of a party as to how an incident may have occurred as well as to prove how it actually occurred. Sufficient similarity between conditions of the experiment and conditions of the incident is all that is required, not identical conditions. Variations in conditions go to the weight to be given the experiment rather than to admissibility, and is a matter to be evaluated by the jury. Jenkins v. Snohomish Cnty. Pub. Util. Dist. No. 1, 105 Wn.2d 99, 713 P.2d 79 (1986); Breimon v. Gen. Motors Corp., 8 Wn.App. 747, 509 P.2d 398 (1973). Also see Nordstrom v. White Metal Rolling & Stamping Corp., 75 Wn.2d 629, 453 P.2d 619 (1969).
In a criminal context, the appellate courts have held that demonstrative evidence may be admissible if the experiment was conducted under conditions “reasonably similar” to conditions at the actual event. Whether the similarity is sufficient is for the trial court's discretion. State v. Stockmyer, 83 Wn.App. 77, 83, 920 P.2d 1201 (1996) (citing State v. Rogers, 70 Wn.App. 626, 855 P.2d 294 (1993)) (video reenactment).
The ultimate test for the admissibility of an experiment as evidence is whether it tends to enlighten the jury and enables them to more intelligently consider the issues presented. When experimental evidence is likely to confuse the jury, raise collateral issues, or is more prejudicial than probative, its admission should be refused. If experimental evidence is admitted, the court should explain to the jury the differences in conditions between the posed evidence and the situation sought to be reconstructed in order to minimize the prejudice or cure misrepresentations. See Jenkins, 105 Wn.2d 99, and the case cited therein.
Particular care should be taken not to combine a view of the premises with an experiment. Such a practice can amount to the reception of evidence acquired outside of court. Cole v. McGhie, 59 Wn.2d 436, 361 P.2d 938 (1961). For the necessity of care and attention to pretrial or preview or pre-experiment arrangements by the trial judge and counsel, see State v. Gray, 64 Wn.2d 979, 395 P.2d 490 (1964); Cole, 59 Wn.2d 436; Sauls v. Scheppler, 57 Wn.2d 273, 356 P.2d 714 (1960).
[Current as of November 2020.]
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