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United States v. Samchuk

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 8, 2016

ALLA SAMCHUK, Defendant.



         Attached are the Court's proposed voir dire, the Court's proposed preliminary, during trial, and closing jury instructions, and the Court's proposed verdict form. Any proposed modifications should be submitted as soon as practicable.

         VOIR DIRE

         Good morning and welcome to the United States District Court. Thank you for your presence and anticipated cooperation in the jury selection questioning process we are about to begin. You are performing an important function in our legal system.

         The court personnel who will assist me in this trial are on the platform below me. The Courtroom Deputy is Shani Furstenau. Next to her is the Certified Court Reporter.

         We are about to begin what is known as voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to determine 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 are called peremptory challenges, which excuse a potential juror from sitting as a juror on this case. A potential juror can also be excused for other reasons.

         Ms. Furstenau, please administer the oath to the panel.

         Counsel, the Jury Administrator randomly selected potential jurors and placed their names on the document that you have been given in the numerical sequence in which each potential juror was randomly selected. Each juror has been placed in his or her randomly-selected seat. The Courtroom Deputy has given each juror a large laminated card on which the number is placed that depicts the order in which the juror was randomly selected.

         I will ask the potential jurors questions as a group. If a potential juror has a response, he or she shall raise the laminated card. Generally, you will be given an opportunity to respond in accordance with the numerical order in which you are seated, meaning the juror in the lowest numbered seat will respond first. If no card is raised, I will simply state "no response" 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 seat number by stating your seat number, then your response. That could expedite the process.

         If you conclude any question unduly pries into your private affairs and you, therefore, desire to discuss it privately, let me know. I am authorized to protect legitimate privacy interests, but I may ask questions about the matter you indicate you want to discuss privately to determine whether it, or any aspect of the matter, should be discussed in the public courtroom. This approach is taken because the trial proceedings should be open unless I have a legitimate reason to close an aspect of it.

         The presentation of evidence and closing argument portions of the trial are expected to be completed in approximately 8 to 11 court days, after which the case will be submitted to the jury for jury deliberation. Trial will be conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. However, once 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 deliberations.

         1. Does this schedule present a problem for any prospective juror?

         2. Is there any reason why you would not be able to be a juror or give your full attention to this case?

         3. Are you opposed to judging a witness's credibility?

         4. This is a criminal case brought by the United States government against Defendant Alla Samchuk in which the United States alleges in the Superseding Indictment that Ms. Samchuk committed bank fraud, false statement to a financial institution, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. Ms. Samchuk has pleaded not guilty to these allegations. The superseding indictment simply described the charges the government brings against Ms. Samchuk. The superseding indictment is not evidence and does not prove anything.

a. Did you know about the allegations being tried in this case before I just stated them?
b. Is there anything about an allegation which causes you to feel that you might not be a fair juror in this case?

         5. I will now see if you know, or have had any interaction with any participant in this trial by allowing each party to be named.

a. The attorneys for the United States may introduce themselves and read the names of all witnesses they intend to call.
b. Defense counsel may now make an introduction.
c. Do you know or have you had any interaction with any person just introduced or named?

         6. Have you, any member of your family, or any close friend ever been arrested or charged for a crime or been a defendant in a criminal case?

a. Could what you communicated have a bearing on your ability to be a fair and impartial juror in this case?

         7. Have you ever served as a 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.

         8. Have you, any member of your family, or any close friend ever been employed by a law enforcement agency?

a. Is there anything about what you just related that could prevent you from being an impartial juror in this case?

         9. Would you tend to believe the testimony of a witness just because that witness is a law enforcement officer and for no other reason?

         10. Would you tend to disbelieve the testimony of a witness just because that witness is a law enforcement officer?

         11. You are required to apply the law I will give you even if you believe a different law should apply. If you cannot agree to what I just said, please raise your hand.

         12. 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 the government at all times bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

         13. Do you have any problem with the rule of law that a defendant need not testify on his own behalf, and that if a defendant chooses not to testify, that factor may not be considered by you in your deliberations?

         14. Is there anything that we have not discussed that you believe could have a bearing on your ability to be a fair and impartial juror in this case?

         15. Now, I am going to ask you to put yourselves in the position of each lawyer and party in this case. Do you have any information that you would like to know if you were in that position?

         16. The Courtroom Deputy Clerk will give juror in seat number 1 a sheet on which there are questions to which I want each of you to respond. Please pass the sheet to the juror near you after you respond. The questions ask:

a. your name;
b. your educational background;
c. the educational background of any person residing with you;
d. your present and former occupations; and
e. the present and former occupations of any person residing with you.



         You now are 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 written instructions. When you deliberate, it will be your duty to weigh and to evaluate all the evidence received in the case and, in that process, to decide the facts. To the facts as you find them, you will apply the law as I give it to you, whether you agree with the law or not. You must decide the case solely on the evidence and the law before you and must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices, or sympathy. Please do 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-that is entirely up to you.


         The evidence you are to consider in deciding what the facts are consists of:

the sworn testimony of any witness;
the exhibits which are received in evidence; and
any facts to which the parties agree.


         The following things are not evidence, and you must not consider them as evidence in deciding the facts of this case:

statements and arguments of the attorneys;
questions and objections of the attorneys;
testimony that I instruct you to disregard; and

         anything you may see or hear when the court is not in session even if what you see or hear is done or said by one of the parties or by one of the witnesses.


         Evidence may be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is direct proof of a fact, such as testimony by a witness about what that witness personally saw or heard or did. Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence, that is, it is proof of one or more facts from which one can find another fact.

         You are to consider both direct and circumstantial evidence. Either can be used to prove any fact. The law makes no distinction between the weight to be given to either direct or circumstantial evidence. It is for you to decide how much weight to give to any evidence.


         There are rules of evidence that control what can be received in evidence. When a lawyer asks a question or offers an exhibit in evidence and a lawyer on the other side thinks that it is not permitted by the rules of evidence, that lawyer may object. If I overrule the objection, the question may be answered or the exhibit received. If I sustain the objection, the question cannot be answered, or the exhibit cannot be received. Whenever I sustain an objection to a question, you must ignore the question and must not guess what the answer would have been.

         Sometimes I may order that evidence be stricken from the record and that you disregard or ignore the evidence. That means that when you are deciding the case, you must not consider the evidence that I told you to disregard.


         In deciding the facts in this case, you may have to decide which testimony to believe and which testimony not to believe. You may believe everything a witness says, or part of it, or none of it.

         In considering the testimony of any witness, you may take into account:

the witness's opportunity and ability to see or hear or know the things testified to;
the witness's memory; the witness's manner while testifying;
the witness's interest in the outcome of the case, ...

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