make sure youre getting it right and
insulate yourself from reversal is to use statute or caselaw language, she said.
Our view is that while it is difficult to ever make the law seem simpler, it is not
impossible. There should be a way to take these concepts and explain them in ways that are
accurate and more clear.
The first set
of instructions offers a broad overview, covering introductory and concluding
instructions, elements of evidence and how jurors should approach evidence.
In the criminal
portion, for example, the task force intentionally hit the high points of the
elements of crime, such as homicide and robbery, Corrigan said. There are many
nuances to crime-based instructions that we have yet to complete.
In the draft
instructions, the task force followed such rules as avoiding double negatives, using short
sentences and eliminating unnecessary words.
and the plaintiff are referred to by their names, the people are called the
prosecutor, and a preponderance of evidence becomes more likely
the revision effort a risky undertaking. She noted that despite two Supreme
Court decisions and removal by the legislature of the words to a moral certainty
in the reasonable doubt instruction, attorneys continue to challenge that instruction.
only imagine what will happen when we start changing all the rules, she said. If
we do this and dont do it right, all manner of unpleasant things will transpire.
Judicial Council will determine how to publish new instructions, possibly online. Our
goal has been to make them as readily accessible as can be and not to have them be a
profit center for the Judicial Council, Corrigan said.
instructions will circulate among judges, bar associations, law school professors and
others until August 1.
available on the California courts web site, www.courtinfo.ca.gov. Comments should
be sent to Administrative Office of the Courts, Attn. Camillia Kieliger, 455 Golden Gate
Ave., San Francisco 94103.
In a related
development, a new web site to help jurors understand the basics of jury service was
launched last month at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury.
answers the most frequently asked questions by the estimated 10 million Californians
called for jury duty each year. It also gives potential jurors a way to ask questions
online and to express their views about jury duty.