The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge
ORDER RE: PROPOSED TRIAL DOCUMENTS
Attached are voir dire questions, preliminary jury instructions, and a verdict form.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. JOHN C. SMITHSON, Defendant.
Thank you for your presence and anticipated cooperation in the jury selection questioning process we are about to begin. This process concerns the right to a trial by jury, which is a right that the founders of this nation considered an important component of our constitutional system.
The court personnel who will assist me in this trial are on the platform below me. The Courtroom Deputy is Shani Furstenau. She is on the platform below me on my left side. Next to her is the Certified Court Reporter, Kimberly Bennett.
We are about to begin what is known as voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to ascertain whether you can be a fair and impartial juror on this case. Near or at the end of the process, each party can use a certain amount of what is called a peremptory challenge, which excuses a potential juror from sitting as a juror on this case. A potential juror can also be excused for other reasons.
1. Ms. Furstenau, please administer the oath to the panel.
2. Counsel, the Jury Administrator has already randomly selected potential jurors and placed their names on the sheet that has been given to each party in the numerical sequence in which they were randomly selected. Each juror has been placed in his or her randomly-selected seat.
3. I will ask a series of questions to the jurors as a group. If you have a response, please raise your hand or the number you've been given, which reflects your seat number. Generally, you will be given an opportunity to respond in accordance with the numerical order in which you are seated, with the juror in the lowest numbered seat responding first. If no hand is raised, I will simply state "no response" for the record and then ask the next question. If you know it is your turn to respond to a question, you may respond before I call your name or your seat number, by stating your last name or just your seat number, then your response. That should expedite the process.
4. This is a criminal case brought by the United States government. In this case, the indictment charges the defendant, John Smithson, with conspiring to defraud the government. The indictment against the defendant is only an accusation, nothing more. It is not evidence, and it is not proof of guilt or anything else. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to this charge. Is there anything about the allegations or about anything else I've said which causes you to feel that you might not be fair in this particular case?
5. The parties have informed me that the evidence argument portion of the trial should be completed in approximately three to four court days, after which the case will be submitted to the jury for jury deliberation. We will be in trial on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. But as soon as you commence jury deliberations, you will be expected to deliberate every day except weekends from 9:00 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. until you complete your deliberation. If you cannot participate as juror raise your hand.
6. Raise your hand if you have a belief that could make it difficult for you to decide the guilt or innocence of another person.
7. The attorneys for the parties in this case are now provided the opportunity to introduce themselves and each counsel's respective client, and the United States shall read the names of all witnesses it intends to call.
8. Raise your hand if you know or have had any interaction with any person just introduced or named.
9. Raise your hand if you would tend to believe the testimony of a witness just because that witness is a law enforcement officer and for no other reason.
10. Raise your hand if you would tend not to believe testimony of a witness just because that witness is a law enforcement officer and for no other reason.
11. Have you, or has anyone close to you, ever been arrested or charged for a crime or been a defendant in a criminal case?
a. Could what you just related have a bearing on your ability to be a fair and impartial juror in this case?
12. Have you ever served as a juror or grand juror in the past?
a. State whether it was a civil or criminal case, and state whether the jury reached a verdict, but do not state the actual verdict reached.
13. Is there any reason why you would not be able to give your full attention to this case?
14. Have you, any member of your family, or any close friend ever been employed by a law enforcement agency, including military law enforcement?
a. Could what you just stated have a bearing on your ability to be a fair and impartial juror in this case?
15. Do you have any difficulty with the rule of law that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent and need not present any evidence, and that the government at all times bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
16. Do you have any problem with the rule of law that the defendant need not testify on his own behalf, and that if the defendant chooses not to testify that factor may not be considered by you in your deliberations?
17. If you are selected to try this case, will you be able to render a verdict solely on the evidence presented at the trial?
18. If you are selected to try this case, will you be able to apply the law as I give it to you, whether or ...