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United States v. McNeal

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 14, 2017




         Attached are proposed voir dire questions, initial jury instructions, closing jury instructions, and verdict form.

         Trial will commence at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.


         VOIR DIRE

         Good morning and welcome to the United States District Court. Thank you for both your presence and your anticipated cooperation in the 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. Ms. Furstenau, please administer the oath to the prospective jurors.

         We are about to begin what is known as voir dire. Voir dire consists of questions designed to provide the court and the parties with information about each potential juror. After questioning is complete, the parties will exercise what is known as peremptory challenges.

         1. Counsel, the Jury Administrator has already randomly selected potential jurors and their names are on the sheet you have been given in the order of the random selection. Each potential juror has been given a large laminated card on which the number is placed showing the order in which the potential juror was randomly selected.

         2. 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, the potential juror with the lowest number will respond first. If no laminated 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.

         3. If a potential juror concludes a question unduly pries into a private matter, the potential juror may request to respond out of the earshot of other potential jurors. I'm authorized to try to protect legitimate privacy interests, but may ask questions in the area that you indicate a desire to discuss in private to determine whether it, or any aspect of the matter, should be responded to as indicated. This approach is taken because the trial should be open unless I have a legitimate reason to close an aspect of it.

         4. The presentation of evidence and closing argument portions of the trial are expected to be completed in approximately two weeks, 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 until you complete your deliberations. Does the schedule pose a special problem for any prospective jury?

         5. Counsel may make any desired introductions; however, the United States shall name anticipated witnesses it may call so it can be determined whether any potential jury knows or has had contact with a person named.

a. Do you know and or have you had any contact with a person just named?

         6. This is a criminal case involving allegations that defendant Willie James McNeal initiated an attack on the victim Timothy Jackson by punching Jackson, and that this occurred in a federal prison where both the McNeal and Jackson were imprisoned. The charge against the defendant is contained in the indictment. The indictment simply describes the charge the United States brings against the defendant. The indictment is not evidence and does not prove anything. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is presumed innocent unless and until the United States proves the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

         7. In light of the allegations, does any potential juror prefer not being a juror on this case?

         8. Is there anything about the allegations which causes you to feel that you might not be a fair juror in this case?

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

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

         11. Do you have any religious or moral objection to sitting in judgment of another's conduct in a court of law?

         12. Have you ever served as a juror in the past, in any capacity?

a. State whether it was a civil or criminal case, and whether the jury reached a verdict, but do not state the actual verdict reached.

         13. Would you tend to believe the testimony of a witness just because of that witness's present or former status as a correctional officer or as an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

         14. Would you tend to disbelieve the testimony of a witness just because of the witness's present or former status as a correctional officer or as an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that witness is law enforcement officer?

         15. 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.

         16. 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?

         17. 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?

         18. 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, or that you suspect a trial participant would desire to know?

         19. The Courtroom Deputy Clerk will give the juror in seat number one a sheet on which there is information we seek. Please pass the sheet to a potential juror near you after you respond.

         Please state your juror seat number and then provide the information requested on the sheet.

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



         INSTRUCTION NO. 1

         Jurors: 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 initial instructions. At the end of the trial, I will give you more detailed written instructions that will control your deliberations. 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.

         INSTRUCTION NO. 2 The evidence you are to consider in deciding what the facts are consists of:

(1) the sworn testimony of any witness;
(2) the exhibits which are received in ...

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