WPI 6.18 Suggestions for Deliberation Procedures
6 WAPRAC WPI 6.18Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 6.18 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Part I. General Instructions
Chapter 6. Oral Instructions During Trial
WPI 6.18 Suggestions for Deliberation Procedures
Now that you've heard the court's instructions on the law and the closing arguments, you are ready to begin your deliberations. You are free to conduct your deliberations in any way that seems suitable to you and is consistent with the instructions I've given [and the information posted in the jury room]. However, I have a few suggestions that may help you proceed more smoothly. Unlike the instruction as to the law, these remarks are only suggestions and will not be given to you in writing.
As you deliberate, consider the following guidelines:
• Respect each other's opinions and the different viewpoints each of you brings to the process. Don't be afraid to speak up and express your views.
• Be patient and generous in allowing everyone an opportunity to speak. Differences of opinion are healthy—they bring the evidence into focus and bring out points you might not have considered.
• Listen carefully to each other. It's okay to change your mind, but don't allow yourself to be bullied into doing so, and don't bully anyone else.
• Don't rush into a verdict to save time. The parties in this case deserve your thoughtful deliberation. The jury system depends on it.
• Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but you should do so only after you've reviewed the law, carefully considered all the evidence, discussed the issues fully and fairly with the other jurors, and listened to their views.
Discuss the law and the evidence to your satisfaction before you take a vote. You should organize your discussions in whatever way you believe will be productive and fair. Some juries begin by reviewing the court's instructions on the law, because those instructions identify each claim and proposition you must consider. Others begin by proceeding around the table with each juror in turn identifying the issues or concerns he or she would like to have discussed, because that encourages free expression by all jurors before positions are taken. It is helpful to list the issues on which there are differences of opinion. Whatever approach you take, you should separately consider each claim, and examine the evidence—both the testimony and any exhibits—on each proposition that is part of a claim.
There is no set way to conduct a vote. You might vote by show of hands, by voice vote, or by written ballot. Use a method that will encourage each juror to freely express opinions and conclusions.
Finally, I remind you that these remarks are merely suggestions. I hope they are helpful to you. Nothing I've said or done should suggest to you what your verdict should be—that is entirely for you to decide.
You may now return to the jury room.
NOTE ON USE
Judges may use this instruction to help jurors organize their deliberations. See the Comment. The instruction may be modified to reflect local practices and preferences.
To help jurors keep this instruction distinct from the instructions on the law, this instruction should be read to the jury after the attorneys have completed their oral arguments on the other instructions. The WPI Committee recommends that the instruction not be included in the set of written jury instructions.
The attorneys should receive a copy of this instruction before it is read to the jury so that they have an opportunity to propose changes or make objections.
Use the bracketed phrase if information on deliberation procedures is posted in the jury room.
Background. The instruction provides jurors with information to assist them in organizing their deliberations. Many jurors find this information helpful, as was observed by the Washington State Jury Commission in 2000:
Many jurors are unfamiliar with group decision-making procedures. They do not know which procedures are more likely to further, and which are more likely to inhibit, their collaborative search for the truth in the evidence. They do not know that taking a vote early in their deliberations can polarize the jury and inhibit their open-minded discussion of the evidence. They do not know how to set up their discussion so that each juror fully participates and the discussion still stays on track. It is therefore not surprising that research shows that jurors spend up to one-quarter of their time trying to get organized.
Washington State Jury Commission's Report to the Board for Judicial Administration, Recommendation Number 37 (July 2000) (and accompanying narrative). The Jury Commission recommended that this information be incorporated into a pattern jury instruction.
The WPI Committee reviewed sample instructions on deliberation procedures from other states, and used them as the starting point for drafting WPI 6.18. See Appendix 6 of the Washington State Jury Commission's Report; G. Thomas Munsterman, et al., Jury Trial Innovations, pp. 171–73 and Appendix 9 (3rd ed. 1997); American Judicature Society, Behind Closed Doors: A Resource Manual to Improve Jury Deliberations (1999); Arizona Supreme Court Committee on More Effective Use of Juries, Jurors: The Power of 12, p. 104 and Exhibit H (1994); District of Columbia Jury Project, Juries for the Year 2000 and Beyond, pp. 65–67 (1998); and California Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvement, Final Report, p. 99 and Appendix O (1996).
Special handling of the instruction. WPI 6.18 is framed in terms of suggestions rather than commands. Care should be taken to make sure jurors do not think that the advisory nature of this instruction extends to the other instructions. To this end, the WPI Committee recommends that WPI 6.18 be given to the jurors at a different time than the other concluding instructions and that the instruction be given orally instead of in writing.
The sequence of events after the close of evidence should be as follows: The jury receives the court's instructions on the law, the attorneys present their closing arguments, the jury hears the court's suggestions for deliberation procedures, and the jury then retires to deliberate. This sequence not only keeps WPI 6.18 distinct from the other instructions, but it keeps the suggestions fresh in jurors' minds as they begin deliberations. Because WPI 6.18 is intended as an oral instruction, it is written in a conversational style to aid jurors' understanding.
Judicial discretion. Judges may exercise discretion in deciding whether and how to inform jurors about deliberation procedures. Each judge is free to adapt WPI 6.18 to fit local practice and the judge's personal style. Judges may also consider other methods to convey this information, such as by developing jury pamphlets or by posting placards in the jury room.
[Current as of December 2020.]
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