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Jury Instructions

MaggieD

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From Richard Hornsby:

since the trial is nearly over, I have taken the opportunity to provide a model of the Self Defense Instructions that will actually be read to George Zimmerman’s jury. The model instruction is taken directly from Florida’s Standard Jury Instruction 3.6(f) “Justifiable Use of Deadly Force”.

Justifiable Use of Deadly ForceAn issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which George Zimmerman is charged if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force. “Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
When Deadly Force is Justified
A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.
When Deadly Force is Not Justified
The use of deadly force is not justifiable if you find George Zimmerman initially provoked the use of force against himself, by force or the threat of force, unless:
1. The force asserted toward George Zimmerman was so great that he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force on Trayvon Martin; or
2. In good faith, George Zimmerman withdrew from physical contact with Trayvon Martin and clearly indicated to Trayvon Martin that he wanted to withdraw and stop the use of deadly force, but Trayvon Martin continued or resumed the use of force.
Judging Circumstances of Deadly Force
In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used.
The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.
No Duty to Retreat
If George Zimmerman was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Reputation of Victim
If you find that Trayvon Martin had a reputation of being a violent and dangerous person and that his reputation was known to George Zimmerman, you may consider this fact in determining whether the actions of George Zimmerman were those of a reasonable person in dealing with an individual of that reputation.
Physical abilities
In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
Final Considerations
If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.
However, if from the evidence you are convinced that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved.

If I understand this link correctly, each side will have an opportunity to add to these instructions. Thought it rather interesting.

What The George Zimmerman Jury Will Likely Hear About The Law Of Self Defense | Mediaite
 

APACHERAT

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I just heard that the jury instructions is 2,000 pages long. Is this just another MSNBC rumor to ignore ?
 

Aderleth

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I just heard that the jury instructions is 2,000 pages long. Is this just another MSNBC rumor to ignore ?

A full pdf of all the standard jury instructions (i.e. not just for murder, but for every crime) would probably run to several hundred pages. Jury instructions for single crimes rarely run longer than a page or two. The whole point of jury instructions is to simplify complex legal issues for laypeople.
 

MaggieD

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I just heard that the jury instructions is 2,000 pages long. Is this just another MSNBC rumor to ignore ?

You have to ask that question??
 

APACHERAT

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A full pdf of all the standard jury instructions (i.e. not just for murder, but for every crime) would probably run to several hundred pages. Jury instructions for single crimes rarely run longer than a page or two. The whole point of jury instructions is to simplify complex legal issues for laypeople.

I've served on more than a few juries, I remember one civil trial sitting there for six hours listening to the judge read the jury instructions.

There was one famous criminal trial, not sure if it was the OJ case or not but the judge spent the entire morning and afternoon reading the jury instructions.

What's realy strange about Florida, for us who take our Constitutional rights seriously and don't depend on government to protect our lives, family and property and would rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6. In Florida it seems it's carried by 6 or tried by 6.
 

joko104

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I've served on more than a few juries, I remember one civil trial sitting there for six hours listening to the judge read the jury instructions.

There was one famous criminal trial, not sure if it was the OJ case or not but the judge spent the entire morning and afternoon reading the jury instructions.

What's realy strange about Florida, for us who take our Constitutional rights seriously and don't depend on government to protect our lives, family and property and would rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6. In Florida it seems it's carried by 6 or tried by 6.

And it doesn't take 6 to convict. Only 4. Plus no grand jury safeguard before this either. In Florida, for anything but the death penalty, the government can have anyone arrested, charged and jailed solely on the wish of political officials - and then they only need find 4 people from a jury pool the government made to send you to prison for the rest of your life.
 

Aderleth

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I've served on more than a few juries, I remember one civil trial sitting there for six hours listening to the judge read the jury instructions.

That probably means they were covering lots and lots of different legal issues. The jury instructions for any given issue are generally extremely pithy. That's the whole point.
 

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And it doesn't take 6 to convict. Only 4.
You are wrong.
A guilty verdict must be unanimous.


For a case with a penalty phase, in which a jury determines the penalty, it is by a simple majority.
 
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Aderleth

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I will say you are wrong.

If you are not, please proved proof of such.

Under Birch v Louisiana, that'd be impossible. If a jury is only six people, it's constitutionally required to reach a unanimous verdict re: criminal convictions. Florida apparently does allow split juries (of 9/12 people, I think) to determine whether or not to apply the death penalty in cases in which that's an option.
 

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Under Birch v Louisiana, that'd be impossible. If a jury is only six people, it's constitutionally required to reach a unanimous verdict re: criminal convictions. Florida apparently does allow split juries (of 9/12 people, I think) to determine whether or not to apply the death penalty in cases in which that's an option.
I changed my post before you submitted your reply.
 

year2late

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I just heard that the jury instructions is 2,000 pages long. Is this just another MSNBC rumor to ignore ?

I just googled this and the only place I found that spoke of this was here.


Can you link us up to where this info came from?
 

justabubba

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Under Birch v Louisiana, that'd be impossible. If a jury is only six people, it's constitutionally required to reach a unanimous verdict re: criminal convictions. Florida apparently does allow split juries (of 9/12 people, I think) to determine whether or not to apply the death penalty in cases in which that's an option.

i thought it was only louisianna and oregon which accepted less than a unanimous decision for conviction
 

ric27

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There's too much reasonable doubt -- justifiable homicide

Not guilty
 

MaggieD

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And it doesn't take 6 to convict. Only 4. Plus no grand jury safeguard before this either. In Florida, for anything but the death penalty, the government can have anyone arrested, charged and jailed solely on the wish of political officials - and then they only need find 4 people from a jury pool the government made to send you to prison for the rest of your life.

Wait!!!!! You're going to give me a heart attack.

Historically, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken the position that a criminal jury should be made up of 12 members, but in 1970, the Court reconsidered its position and upheld a conviction by a six-member Florida jury, noting that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says nothing at all about jury size.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees citizens a right to a trial by an impartial jury of peers, but it doesn’t designate how many peers should be on the jury.

Ultimately, the court concluded that a six-person jury satisfies the Sixth Amendment jury requirement and the 14th Amendment right to due process, but that a jury shouldn’t be any smaller than that. The court also said that any verdict by a jury of six people must be unanimous in criminal cases.

Unanimous -- not 4 out of six.

Why only six jurors in the Zimmerman trial? | HLNtv.com
 

Aderleth

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i thought it was only louisianna and oregon which accepted less than a unanimous decision for conviction

That might be true. Constitutionally it's a function of how many jurors you have. If you use a six person jury, you're constitutionally required to get a unanimous verdict. If you have a twelve person jury, you can - constitutionally speaking - convict on less than a unanimous verdict (I think it's at least 9 out of 12, but I can't remember). Beyond those two requirements, states can do whatever they want.
 

APACHERAT

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I just googled this and the only place I found that spoke of this was here.


Can you link us up to where this info came from?

Can't provide a link because I heard it during the early morning hours on an AM radio talk show.
The DJ was just commenting that the most boring part of any court trial is when the judge reads the jury instructions to the jury. How some times the instructions are so long that it takes an entire day.

I've sat on a number of juries, criminal and civil. Criminal instructions to a jury always seem to be short. Complicated civil trials can be extremely complicated and the instructions to the jury just as complicated and extremely long. Then the jury goes in the back room and this is when you start questioning the jury system in America when you start noticing how stupid some people are sitting on a jury.
 

year2late

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Can't provide a link because I heard it during the early morning hours on an AM radio talk show.
The DJ was just commenting that the most boring part of any court trial is when the judge reads the jury instructions to the jury. How some times the instructions are so long that it takes an entire day.

I've sat on a number of juries, criminal and civil. Criminal instructions to a jury always seem to be short. Complicated civil trials can be extremely complicated and the instructions to the jury just as complicated and extremely long. Then the jury goes in the back room and this is when you start questioning the jury system in America when you start noticing how stupid some people are sitting on a jury.

Which radio talk show?
 

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Which radio talk show?

I really don't know, I'm out on a job site in the Mojave Desert right now and at night I can get AM radio stations from Texas to Seattle and from the Navajo Indian reservation in N.M. to L.A.

Remember listening to Wolfman Jack when he broadcasted from Mexico ? You were able to listen to him from any where west of the Mississippi at night.

Funny, twenty or thirty years ago they said AM radio was headed to the grave yard. Today AM radio is the biggest money maker there is.
 

Dickieboy

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I just heard that the jury instructions is 2,000 pages long. Is this just another MSNBC rumor to ignore ?

The judge flipped through the 'draft' of the instructions and it didn't appear more than 15-20 pages...?

A full pdf of all the standard jury instructions (i.e. not just for murder, but for every crime) would probably run to several hundred pages. Jury instructions for single crimes rarely run longer than a page or two. The whole point of jury instructions is to simplify complex legal issues for laypeople.

The 'full pdf' is a mere 705 pages...
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/...ers/entireversion/onlinejurryinstructions.pdf
 

Aderleth

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i thought it was only louisianna and oregon which accepted less than a unanimous decision for conviction


Just to be clear, what is constitutionally required for a criminal conviction is not the same as what is required for application of the death penalty. Criminal cases involving the death penalty in most states that have the death penalty typically have two entirely separate inquiries. The first is the guilt phase, wherein a determination of guilt occurs. That determination is bound by the constitutional limitations I've already discussed. After guilt is determined, you have what is called the penalty phase, at which the jury determines whether or not the guilty criminal deserves the death penalty. That latter process does not have the same jury-based constitutional restrictions I was talking about.
 

Dickieboy

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Which is exactly what I said it would be. Why are you bringing this up?

To substantiate your assertion 'would probably run to several hundred pages'.

Why so defensive?...
 

MaggieD

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Back to the generic instructions as posted in the OP:

Justifiable Use of Deadly Force

An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which George Zimmerman is charged if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force. “Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

When Deadly Force is Justified

A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

When Deadly Force is Not Justified

The use of deadly force is not justifiable if you find George Zimmerman initially provoked the use of force against himself, by force or the threat of force, unless: The state provided no evidence that George Zimmerman struck Trayvon Martin...no evidence that he threatened force against him.

1. The force asserted toward George Zimmerman was so great that he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force on Trayvon Martin; or

2. In good faith, George Zimmerman withdrew from physical contact with Trayvon Martin and clearly indicated to Trayvon Martin that he wanted to withdraw and stop the use of deadly force, but Trayvon Martin continued or resumed the use of force.

Judging Circumstances of Deadly Force

In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used.

The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real. The defense has proven George Zimmerman was struck numerous times while down on the ground with Trayvon Martin straddling him.

No Duty to Retreat

If George Zimmerman was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. George Zimmerman had a right to be in that subdivision...was breaking no law when he followed Trayvon Martin, and had no duty to retreat...and couldn't have had he tried.

Reputation of Victim

If you find that Trayvon Martin had a reputation of being a violent and dangerous person and that his reputation was known to George Zimmerman, you may consider this fact in determining whether the actions of George Zimmerman were those of a reasonable person in dealing with an individual of that reputation. This doesn't come under consideration.

Physical abilities

In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Relative physical abilities are apparent since George Zimmerman was taken down, straddled and couldn't extricate himself.

Final Considerations

If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.

However, if from the evidence you are convinced that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved. The state has failed (miserably) to prove that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force. In fact, they didn't even address this issue.

I don't see how he can be found guilty. Of anything.
 
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