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. The charges against the defendants, contained in an indictment, are not evidence; the statement of the case I will read to you shortly also is not evidence.
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 defendants in this case are Charles Head and Jeremy Head. The defendants are presumed innocent, and they retain the presumption of innocence unless and until the government proves its case against them beyond a reasonable doubt.
Plaintiff is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Anderson, Matthew Morris and Nicholas Fogg.
Defendant Charles Head is represented by Scott Tedmon and defendant Jeremy Michael Head is represented by Christopher Haydn-Myer.
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 defendants:
The defendants Charles Head and Jeremy Michael Head are charged by the superseding indictment with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Mail Fraud. The superseding indictment alleges that between on or about January 1, 2004, and on or about March 14, 2006, the defendants conspired to target distressed homeowners in order to obtain title to their homes and steal their equity. As part of the conspiracy, it is alleged that the defendants made false statements and omissions to homeowners, including statements that the homeowners would remain on title to the home with an investor, little or no equity would be removed from the home, and that their credit would be repaired. However, the defendants intended to place title into the names of straw-buyers and remove the equity from the homes.
The indictment further alleges, that once the defendants obtained control over the title to the home, they would use false statements, including statements regarding ownership and occupancy of the homes and the income and employment history of the straw-buyers, in order to get loans against the value of the homes. Money from these loans would then be diverted out of escrow into companies controlled by the defendants or their conspirators.
The defendants deny these allegations.
Preliminary Instruction No. Four
Although the defendants are being tried together, you must give separate consideration to each defendant. In doing so, you must determine which evidence in the case applies to each defendant, disregarding any evidence admitted solely against the other defendant.
Preliminary Instruction No. Five
All persons stand equal before the law and are to be ...