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Gonzales v. Novosel

November 6, 2008

NELSON GONZALES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL NOVOSEL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles R. Breyer United States District Judge

FINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS

DUTIES OF THE JURY TO FIND FACTS AND FOLLOW LAW

Members of the jury: You are now the jury in this case. It is my duty to instruct you on the law. It is your duty to find the facts from all the evidence in the case. To those facts you will apply the law as I give it to you. You must follow the law as I give it to you whether you agree with it or not. You must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices, or sympathy. That means that you must decide the case solely on the evidence before you. You will recall that you took an oath promising to do so at the beginning of the case. In following my instructions, you must follow all of them and not single out some and ignore others; they are all equally important. You must not read into these instructions or into anything the court may have said or done any suggestion as to what verdict you should return--that is a matter entirely up to you.

CLAIMS AND DEFENSES

To help you follow the evidence, I will give you a brief summary of the positions of the parties. Plaintiff Nelson Gonzales claims that Defendant California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Novosel used excessive force in his contact with the Plaintiff on August 19, 2006. Plaintiff has the burden of proving these claims. The defendant denies these claims and contends that he was authorized to use force against the plaintiff and that force used was reasonable under the circumstances. The plaintiff denies the defendant's defenses.

BURDEN OF PROOF - PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE

When a party has the burden of proof on any claim or affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence, it means you must be persuaded by the evidence that the claim or affirmative defense is more probably true than not true. You should base your decision on all of the evidence, regardless of which party presented it.

WHAT IS EVIDENCE

The evidence from which you are to decide what the facts are consists of: (1) the sworn testimony of any witness; (2) the exhibits which have been received into evidence; and (3) any facts to which the lawyers have agreed or stipulated.

WHAT IS NOT EVIDENCE

In reaching your verdict, you may consider only the testimony and exhibits received into evidence. Certain things are not evidence, and you may not consider them in deciding what the facts are. I will list them for you: (1) Arguments and statements by lawyers are not evidence. The lawyers are not witnesses. What they have said in their opening statements, closing arguments, and at other times is intended to help you interpret the evidence, but it is not evidence. If the facts as you remember them differ from the way the lawyers have stated them, your memory of them controls. (2) Questions and objections by lawyers are not evidence. Attorneys have a duty to their clients to object when they believe a question is improper under the rules of evidence. You should not be influenced by the objection or by the court's ruling on it. (3) Testimony that has been excluded or stricken, or that you have been instructed to disregard, is not evidence and must not be considered. (4) Anything you may have seen or heard when the court was not in session is not evidence. You are to decide the case solely on the evidence received at the trial.

EVIDENCE FOR LIMITED PURPOSE

Some evidence may be admitted for a limited purpose only. When I instruct you that an item of evidence has been admitted for a limited purpose, you must consider it only for that limited purpose and for no other.

DIRECT AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

Evidence may be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct proof of a fact, such as testimony by a witness about what the witness personally saw or heard or did. Circumstantial evidence is proof of one or more facts from which you could find another fact. For example, if a witness sees a jet in the sky, that is direct evidence of the jet. If, on the other hand, the witness sees the white jet trail crossing the sky, that is circumstantial evidence of the jet. You should consider both kinds of evidence. The law makes no distinction ...


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