Example Final Jury Instructions (Duties)

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8.1 Introduction

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] You will soon leave this courtroom and start discussing this case in the jury room. It is time for me to tell you about the law you must follow in making your decision.
[2] When we started this case, and at different times during the trial, I told you about several rules of law that apply in general, or to some of the evidence as it was received. Those instructions still apply.
[3] Now I am going to give you further instructions. These instructions will cover a number of topics. Consider them as a whole. Do not single out some as more important and pay less or no attention to others. I am giving them to help you make a decision, not to tell you what decision to make.
[4] [1] First, I will explain your duties as jurors, and tell you about the general rules of law that apply to all jury cases.
[5] Second, I will advise you of the specific rules of law that govern this case. I will explain how those rules apply to the evidence. Even if I do not refer to all the evidence governed by a specific rule, you must apply each rule to all the evidence to which it relates.
[6] Next, I will explain to you what the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to establish the guilt of the person charged (or (NOA)), and tell you about the defences and other issues that arise from the evidence.
[7] Then I will discuss with you the issues that you need to decide and will review for you the evidence that relates to those issues.
[8] After that, I will summarize the positions that counsel (or specify names) have put forward in their closing addresses.
[9] The last thing I will explain for you is what verdicts you may return and how you should approach your discussion of the case in the jury room.
[1] The order of paragraphs [4] - [9] is flexible. It should, however, follow the order in which the Final Instructions are given.

See also Watt's at F1.

Duties of Judge and Jury

8.2 Respective Duties of Judge and Jury

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] In this trial, I am the judge of the law. You are the judges of the facts.
[2] As judge of the law, it is my duty to preside over the trial. I am the sole judge of the law, and it is your duty to accept the law as I explain it to you. If I am wrong about the law, my error can be corrected by the court of appeal, because my instructions are recorded and will be available if there is an appeal. However, your deliberations are secret. If you wrongly apply the law there will be no record of your discussions for the court of appeal to review. Therefore, it is important that you accept the law from me without question; you must not use your own ideas about what the law is or should be.
[3] It is your duty to decide whether the Crown has proved (NOA)’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not my role to express any view on the guilt or innocence of (NOA). If I do so inadvertently, you must ignore it.
[4] You have now heard all the evidence that will be called in this case. There will be no more evidence. You must make your decision based on all the evidence presented to you in the courtroom and only on that evidence. I might comment on or express an opinion about the evidence. If I do that, you do not have to agree with me.

See also Watt's at F2-A.

Prejudice and Sympathy

8.3 Prejudice and Sympathy

(Last revised January 2018)
[1] You must consider the evidence and make your decision on a rational and fair consideration of all the evidence, and not on passion, or sympathy, or prejudice against the accused, the Crown, or anyone else connected with the case. In addition, you must not be influenced by public opinion. Your duty as jurors is to assess the evidence impartially.
[1] This instruction may not be adequate in some circumstances where, for example, issues of gender, race, culture, religion, or class may arise. See, for example, R v Barton, 2017 ABCA 216 at paras 127-130, 162. In these situations, it is advisable to consult with counsel in preparing your instructions.

See also Watt's at F4.

Outside Information

8.4 Outside Information

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] The only information that you may consider is the evidence that has been put before you in the courtroom. You must disregard completely any information from radio, television, or newspaper accounts, Internet sources, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media, that you have heard, seen or read about in respect of this case, or about any of the persons or places involved or mentioned in it. Any other information about the case from outside the courtroom, is not evidence.[1]
[1] As a precaution, most judges ensure that jurors do not take cellphones or other electronic devices into the jury room.

See also Watt's at F3.


8.5 Sentence

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] Possible penalties for the offence[s] charged have no place in your discussions or in your decision.
[1] This is an optional instruction to be given if the possible penalties have been referred to during the trial.

Approach to Task

8.6 Juror's Approach to Task

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] It is your duty to consult with one another and to try to reach a just verdict according to the law. Your foreperson will preside and assist you in the orderly discussion of the issues. You should each have the opportunity to express your own points of view without being unnecessarily repetitive. When you are discussing the issues, you should listen attentively to what your fellow jurors have to say. Approach your duties in a rational way and put your own points of view forward in a calm and reasonable manner. Avoid taking firm positions too early in your deliberations. Consider the views of your fellow jurors with an open mind before reaching your own decision.
[2] Any verdict you reach must be unanimous [on a count or counts]. Unless you are unanimous in finding (NOA) not guilty, you cannot acquit him/her. Nor can you return a verdict of guilty unless you agree unanimously that s/he is guilty.
[3] Each of you must make your own decision whether (NOA) is guilty or not guilty. You should reach your decision only after consideration of the evidence with your fellow jurors. Your duty is to try to reach a unanimous verdict. However, you are entitled to disagree if you cannot reach a unanimous verdict after a sincere consideration of the facts and the law and an honest discussion with your fellow jurors.

See also Watt's at F6.

Review of Evidence

8.7 Judge's Review of Evidence

(Last revised June 2012)
[1] I will review some parts of the evidence and relate it to the issues you must decide. I might mention evidence you think is insignificant or not mention evidence you think is important. Counsel have also referred to the evidence in closing submissions. I remind you that you must consider all of the evidence, not just the parts that have been mentioned. If your recollection of the evidence differs from what counsel or I have said, it is your memory and understanding of the evidence that counts in this case - not mine or that of counsel.

See also Watt's at F9.