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Reference from Coast to Coast - What is the Law - Finding Jury Instructions

By Jan Bissett and Margi Heinen, Published on November 15, 2000

Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a monthly column written by Jan Bissett and Margi Heinen.

Jan Bissett is a Reference Librarian in the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. She is a past president of the Michigan Association of Law Libraries and has published articles on administrative and research related topics in the Michigan Association of Law Libraries Newsletter and Michigan Defense Quarterly. She and Margi Heinen team teach Legal Information Sources and Services for Wayne State University's Library and Information Science Program in Detroit, Michigan.   

Margi Heinen is the Librarian at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss in Detroit, Michigan. She teaches Legal Resources at the University of Michigan's School of Information and is team teaching with her co-columnist, Jan Bissett, at Wayne State University's School of Library and Information Science. She regularly does Internet training of legal staff at her firm and recently collaborated with Kathleen Gamache on an I.P.E. presentation, Internet Stategies for the Paralegal in Michigan. She is active in the Law Librarians of Metro Detroit and is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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Requests for jury instructions have recently been the subject of "help" messages on several law library discussion lists. Many law librarians and legal researchers find themselves hunting for jury instructions in foreign jurisdictions without a clear strategy for locating them. We understood these cries for help once we began to look closely at the availability of jury instructions outside our state. Surprisingly, there are no comprehensive lists of titles nor links to help us in our search for state jury instructions. This column provides titles and sources we've discovered in our search. We have included lists of and links to state jury instructions - usually the standard, model or pattern instructions. These instructions describe the applicable law or give direction concerning the law of a case to persons serving on juries. Their language tends to be closer to "plain English" with laws or rules described concisely. Many jurisdictions, state and federal, have instructions which must be used or substantially followed by the trial judge. 1

Jury instructions are often not requested until that hectic time immediately before or during trial and can be more than just standardized forms submitted to the judge. A need for jury instructions is often expressed as a deceptively simple request but may in fact require sophisticated research. If the requestor seeks only the "standard" jury instructions approved by a court committee, some of our familiar bibliographic tools work well. Legal Looseleafs in Print (Infosources Publishing) and OCLC's FirstSearch (using "instructions to juries" as a subject term) provided the most results. Many of these cataloging records were dated - some records still listing Lawyers Coop. and other pre-merger publishers. Searching your local law library's web catalog using a key word search "jury instruction" will probably net some of the best known sources such as Pattern Jury Instructions (either criminal or civil; West Group) for the federal circuit courts or Federal Jury Practice and Instructions: Civil and Criminal, (4th edition by DeVitt, new 5th edition by O'Malley; West Group). This search may also find state jury instructions within your local library collection.

Many a researcher needs not a collection of jury instructions, but an instruction on a specific, often narrow, point of law. These materials can be much more difficult to locate. You may have the standard instructions for your jurisdiction, only to find nothing within that source on your desired topic. In some jurisdictions an attempt is made to collect additional jury instructions. For example, in Michigan we have both standard and nonstandard jury instructions publications (Michigan Standard Jury Instructions, Civil, ICLE; Michigan Nonstandard Jury Instructions, Civil and Criminal, West Group). In different states you may have to focus on topical jury instructions from other sources. The ABA or its practice sections have many subject related model jury instruction titles. Indexmaster allows searching of the index and table of contents of thousands of print sources. A subscription, based on a sliding scale according to firm size, is required for access. This searching is a great way to "drill down" into print materials for elusive instructions. As a last resort you may have to search case law. In some circumstances, a jury instruction appears in full text within a case when there is controversy about appropriate instructions. Lexis® or Westlaw® may be the most efficient resource in researching these cases. Occasionally you may find jury instructions from well publicized trials on the world wide web or other electronic sources. The jury instructions used by Judge Lance Ito in O.J. Simpson's trial are found at the 'Lectric Law Library.

But, what of world wide web or electronic coverage of jury instructions in general? Your heightened expectations will soon be deflated. Findlaw provides links to federal courts' instructions. Using a search engine like Google will lead you to a number of jury instructions on the web. For instance, many of the federal circuits are now providing jury instructions at their sites (http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/coa/publs/publs.htm  gets you directly into the 8th circuit instructions). There are also several web sites that link to selected jury instruction material: URLAW Legal Research Center: State and Federal Jury Instructions  offers selected civil and criminal, state and federal instructions links. Links may be to the publisher of instructions, others to the full text. The Jury Instructions Forms Book from U.S. Legal Forms  is a listing of individual jury instructions that you can purchase (most cost $5.00). These instructions tend to be "generic" concerning specific topics, such as "capacity to contract", rather than state specific language. NetLaw Libraries' California Civil Jury Instructions in full text are located within the "Guest Services" link. (Note the "Terms of Use" section describing acceptable use of these documents). A Google search also yields several law library jury instruction research or bibliographic guides. Albany Law School provides references to bibliographies and specific sources from their library. Another example is Denise Gibson's Jury Instructions, with an emphasis on Florida materials. These guides will direct the researcher to standard or "pattern" jury instructions for a specific court or jurisdiction on a number of topics. They may also reference instructions by subject matter. Lexis® and Westlaw® provide coverage in selected states usually coinciding with their print counterparts available from Lexis Publishing™ or West Group.

The following state jury instruction titles were compiled from OCLC's FirstSearch, Legal Looseleafs In Print, 2000 ed., Lexis Publishing™  and West Group's websites.

Alabama
Alabama pattern jury instructions-Civil. West Group
Pattern jury instructions - Criminal. Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education, [and] Administrative Office of Courts,Third edition.

Alaska
Alaska pattern civil jury instructions, Alaska Bar Association
Alaska pattern jury instructions (criminal), Alaska Bar Association

Arizona
Revised Arizona jury instructions (Civil). State Bar of Arizona
Revised Arizona jury instructions (Criminal). State Bar of Arizona
RAJI-Criminal (Revisions only)  

Arkansas
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions- Civil. West Group
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions- Criminal. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

California
California jury instructions, civil: book of approved jury instructions (BAJI). West Group
BAJI, Newlawlibraries.com
California jury instructions, criminal: (CALJIC)
. West Group

Colorado
Colorado Jury Instructions-Civil. West Group
Colorado Jury Instructions-Criminal. West Group

Connecticut
Criminal Jury Instructions [Connecticut Practice Series, v. 5].
West Group

Delaware
Pattern jury instructions for civil practice in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. Delaware : Review Committee

District of Columbia
Standardized civil jury instructions for the District of Columbia. Bar Association of the District of Columbia, Rev. ed.
Criminal jury instructions. Bar Association of the District of Columbia

Florida
Florida Forms of Jury Instruction. Matthew Bender
Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases. Florida Bar
Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases. Florida Bar
Statewide Jury Instructions, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Georgia
Suggested pattern jury instructions Athens, Ga.: Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia,: v. 1. Civil cases, 3d ; v. 2 Criminal Cases, 2d

Hawaii
Hawaii civil jury instructions. Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii
Hawaii standard jury instructions. Criminal. Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii

Idaho
Idaho civil jury instructions. Idaho Law Foundation
Idaho criminal jury instructions. Idaho Law Foundation

Iowa
Iowa civil jury instructions. Iowa State Bar Association
Iowa criminal jury instructions. Iowa State Bar Association

Illinois
Illinois Forms of Jury Instructions. Matthew Bender
Illinois Non-Pattern Jury Instructions. West Group
Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions-Criminal. West Group

Indiana
Indiana Non-Pattern Jury Instructions. West Group
Indiana Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal. West Group

Kansas
Pattern instructions, Kansas 3d-civil. West Group
Pattern instructions for Kansas, criminal 3d / Topeka, KS : The Committee

Kentucky
Kentucky instructions to juries: a text on the law relating to instructions to juries in civil and criminal cases: with forms of instructions and notes of cases bearing on such instructions. Anderson Pub. Co.

Louisiana
Louisiana Civil jury instructions [Louisiana civil law treatise series ]. West Group
Louisiana Criminal jury instructions [Louisiana civil law treatise series ]. West Group

Maine
Maine Jury Instruction Manual. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

Maryland
Maryland Civil Jury Instructions and Commentary. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)
Maryland Criminal Jury Instructions and Commentary. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)
Bernan's Case Summaries, Maryland Jury Instructions. Bernan Associates

Massachusetts
Massachusetts Jury Instructions, Civil. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

Michigan
Michigan criminal jury instructions. Institute of Continuing Legal Education
Michigan nonstandard jury instructions [v.1 Civil-- v.2 Criminal]. West Group
Michigan standard jury instructions, civil. Institute of Continuing Legal Education

Minnesota
Criminal Jury Instructions
Minnesota jury instruction guides: civil (CIVJIG), [Minnesota practice]. West Group
Minnesota jury instruction guides, criminal (CRIMJIG) [Minnesota practice ]. West Group

Mississippi
Mississippi model jury instructions: civil [and] criminal. West Group

Missouri
Missouri approved jury instructions (MAI). West Group
Missouri approved instructions, criminal (MAI-CR). Supreme Court of Missouri.

Montana
Civil Jury Instructions, Montana, State Bar of Montana

Nebraska
Nebraska jury instructions, second edition. West Group

Nevada
Nevada pattern jury instructions: civil. Michie, 1986 [OCLC entry, not found at Lexis Publishing™]

New Hampshire
New Hampshire civil jury instructions. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

New Jersey
Model jury charges, civil. New Jersey Supreme Court.
Model jury charges, criminal. New Jersey Supreme Court.

New Mexico
New Mexico uniform jury instructions. Michie [OCLC entry, not found at Lexis Publishing™]

New York
New York pattern jury instructions-civil. West Group
Criminal jury instructions, New York :CJI. New York : Office of Court Administration

North Carolina
North Carolina pattern jury instructions for civil cases. North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges.
North Carolina pattern jury instructions for criminal cases. North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges.

North Dakota
North Dakota pattern jury instructions, civil. State Bar Association of North Dakota
North Dakota pattern jury instructions, crimina
l. State Bar Association of North Dakota

Ohio
Ohio jury instructions: a collection of standard jury instructions in civil and criminal cases. Anderson Pub. Co.

Oregon
Oregon jury instructions for civil cases. Oregon State Bar
Oregon jury instructions for criminal cases. Oregon State Bar

Oklahoma
Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions
Uniform jury instructions, civil. West Group
Uniform jury instructions, criminal. West Group

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Civil Jury Instructions, Pennsylvania Bar Institute
Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Criminal Jury Instructions, Pennsylvania Bar Institute

Rhode Island
Model civil jury instructions for Rhode Island. Rhode Island Bar Association

South Carolina
Jury Instructions for Criminal Case in South Carolina: Defendants' Requested Instructions. South Carolina Bar
Ervin's South Carolina requests to charge-civil. South Carolina Bar
Ervin's South Carolina requests to charge-criminal. South Carolina Bar

South Dakota
South Dakota pattern jury instructions: civil. State Bar of South Dakota
South Dakota pattern jury instructions: criminal. State Bar of South Dakota

Tennessee
Tennessee pattern jury instructions. Civil: (T.P.I. 3--Civil) West Group
Tennessee pattern jury instructions. Criminal: (T.P.I.--Crim.) West Group

Texas
Texas pattern jury charges-[various topics]. State Bar of Texas
Texas criminal jury charges . James Publishing

Utah
Model Utah Jury Instructions, Civil. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

Vermont
Vermont Jury Instructions, Civil and Criminal. Lexis Law Publishing (Butterworth)

Virginia
Virginia Model Jury Instructions, Civil. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)
Virginia Model Jury Instructions, Criminal. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie)

Washington
Washington pattern jury instructions - Civil. Washington Practice Series. West Group
Washington pattern jury instructions - Criminal. Washington Practice Series. West Group

West Virginia
Instructions for Virginia and West Virginia. Lexis Law Publishing (Michie) [1987]

Wisconsin
See Reader Comments below

Wyoming
Wyoming civil pattern jury instructions. Wyoming State Bar
Wyoming pattern criminal jury instructions. Wyoming State Bar

[1]   Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed.  "Jury Instructions"

Reader Comments

From: Elaine Sharp
Subject: Jury instruction article: WI omission
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The recent article on Jury Instructions at:
http://www.llrx.com/columns/reference19.htm

doesn't include 3 Wisconsin titles

Wisconsin jury instructions, civil
Wisconsin jury instructions, criminal
Wisconsin jury instructions, children

All are available from: UW Law School--CLEW, 975 Bascom Mall Room 234B,
Madison, WI 53706-1399
Phone: 608-262-3833