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Third Circuit revises two trial instructions

The Third Circuit revised two criminal instructions in Chapter†2 (Instructions For Use During Trial) this month.

  • The previous admonition in Instruction 2.01 (Recesses) to avoid looking at the news reports is now headed "Before Each Daytime Recess During the Case." A new second admonition, headed "At the End of Each Day of the Case," more specifically addresses Internet and other independent research. A third admonition, headed "At the Beginning of Each Day of the Case," prompts the judge to ask the jurors whether they violated the other admonitions.

    The Comment notes that the source of this was a 2020 Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management report.

  • The Comment to Instruction 2.11 (Limited Admissibility: Evidence Admitted for a Limited Purpose) now has suggested language to deal with "evidence of the defendantís self-expression or artistic expression in social or more traditional media" where "the nature or style of the defendantís expression creates a risk of unfair prejudice."

    I believe that this was inserted in order to deal with cases where the prosecution introduces things like offensive rap lyrics to show the defendant's state of mind regarding illegal drugs.

The prior versions of these instructions are archived†here.

(02/20/21) (permalink)

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