Preliminary Instruction No. One
Ladies and gentlemen: You are now the jury in this case, and I want to take a few minutes to tell you something about your duties as jurors and to give you some instructions. At the end of the trial, I will give you more detailed instructions. Those instructions will control your deliberations.
It will be your duty to decide from the evidence what the facts are. You, and you alone, are the judges of the facts. You will hear the evidence, decide what the facts are, and then apply those facts to the law which I will give to you. That is how you will reach your verdict. In doing so, you must follow that law whether you agree with it or not. The evidence will consist of the testimony of witnesses, documents, and other things received into evidence as exhibits and any facts on which the lawyers agree or which I may instruct you to accept.
You should not take anything I may say or do during the trial as indicating what I think of the evidence or what your verdict should be.
Preliminary Instruction No. Two
During the trial you may hear me use a few terms that you may not have heard before. Let me briefly explain some of the most common to you. The party who is charging an individual with committing a federal offense is called the plaintiff. In this action, the plaintiff is the United States. A party being accused of committing a federal offense is called a defendant. The defendant is Melodi Fae Harris.
Plaintiff is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Lapham and Nirav Desai.
The defendant is represented by Assistant Federal Defender Benjamin Galloway and Research and Writing Attorney Rachelle Barbour.
The trial lawyers are not allowed to speak with you during this case. When you see them at a recess or pass them in the halls and they do not speak to you, they are not being rude or unfriendly; they are simply following the law.
You will sometimes hear me refer to "counsel." "Counsel" is another way of saying "lawyers" or "attorneys." I will sometimes refer to myself as the "Court."
There are rules of evidence that control what can be received into evidence. From time to time during the trial, I may make rulings on objections or motions made by the lawyers. When I sustain an objection, I am excluding that evidence from this trial. If I sustain or uphold an objection to a question that goes unanswered by the witness, you should not draw any inferences or conclusions from the question. When I overrule an objection, I am permitting that evidence to be admitted.
It is a lawyer's duty to object when the other side offers testimony or other evidence that the lawyer believes is not admissible. You should not be unfair or partial against a lawyer or the lawyer's client because the lawyer has made objections.
You should not infer or conclude from any ruling or other comment I may make that I have any opinions on the merits of the case favoring one side or the other. I do not favor one side or the other.
Preliminary Instruction No. Three
To help you follow the evidence, I will give you a brief summary of the charges against the defendant:
In this case, defendant Melodi Fae Harris is charged with mailing four threatening communications in letter form to California's Employment Development Department on or about June 10, 2005, June 25, 2005, July 11, 2005, and August 1, 2005. The government alleges that these letters included threats to injure persons at the Employment Development Department.
The defendant has pleaded not guilty to all four of the charges. The defendant is presumed to be innocent.
Preliminary Instruction No. Four
All persons stand equal before the law and are to be treated as equals.
Preliminary Instruction No. Five
The evidence you are to consider in deciding what the facts ...