The uniform jury instructions committees are charged with the task of developing uniform jury instructions for use in civil and criminal trials. They must also promote better coordination of activities between the two committees to insure a uniform approach to judicial instructions to juries. They continually update existing jury instructions to comply with case law, legislation, and useful suggestions from sections and the legal community, as well as raft instructions in plain language maintaining the goals of clarity and accuracy.
This important charge kept both the civil and the criminal committees busy in 2023.
Uniform Civil Jury Instructions
In 2023, the Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee completed their review of the User’s Guide, amended ten instructions, withdrew three instructions, and added three new instructions. The committee also updated the comment to 44.03 (Professional Perfection Not Required), which was withdrawn in 2022 after the Court of Appeals found it to be an incorrect statement of the law. The Supreme Court has since reversed the Court of Appeals and the committee plans to review this instruction again in 2024.
The Committee updated the User’s Guide to reflect amendments to statutes and rules where necessary, edited the guide to include more gender-neutral terms, added case law, and updated and expanded the section on exceptions.
The committee withdrew UCJI 44.06 and 44.07 dealing with agency in the hospital context. UCJI 30.04A and 30.04B, which address actual and apparent agency in general, were both updated in the comments to add recent case law affecting agency in the hospital context. In the area of domestic-animal liability, the committee updated an instruction, combined two instructions into one, and added four new instructions providing definitions of domestic animal, wild animal, and keeper. The committee also added instructions to address liability for dogs adjudged to be potentially dangerous. Finally, the committee amended several instructions to update statutory citations that the legislature had recently renumbered.
Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions
Considering some appellate court opinions regarding mental states and how they apply to particular elements of crimes, the 2023 Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee had plenty of work to do. The committee’s big accomplishment was revising all the assault instructions. Many of those instructions had to be split in two, creating separate instructions for the “knowingly” version of the crime and the other mental-state versions. Among other things, the committee also updated some of the homicide instructions, the bias-crime instructions, and some criminal mischief instructions, and it wrote a new instruction for the aggravating factor of committing a crime with a firearm.
Overall, the 2023 Supplement contains 52 revised instruction and 20 new instructions.
Available for Preorder
Both of the supplements, and the full books including the supplement instructions, are now available for preorder on the online bookstore in both print and digital formats. Both formats include the MS Word documents of the instructions. All eBook preorders will ship in February and print book preorders will ship by early March.