2021 Uniform Jury Instructions Updates

The Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee and the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee spent 2021 working on instructions in a wide array of categories—updating a number of older instructions and in some categories creating brand new instructions. Continue reading

Marijuana-Related Jury Instructions under Construction

By Dean Land, Attorney Editor

At first glance, Oregon’s new marijuana laws seem simple—recreational marijuana is now legal. But a more in-depth look reveals some very complex legislation. Together, Ballot Measure 91 (2014) and House Bill 3400 (2015) take up 99 pages in Oregon Laws.

The legislation’s effect on the jury instructions is something that the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee is still working to untangle. For example, ORS 475.864 (2013), which criminalized the possession of a certain amount of marijuana, was not simply repealed. Instead, the new version of the statute criminalizes possession of marijuana under certain circumstances, based on criteria including the age of the possessor, the location of the possession, and the amount and form of the marijuana. Furthermore, the statute does not apply to licensed growers, processors, and sellers “acting in accordance with” Measure 91. ORS 475.864(6) (2015). This raises questions. Does a district attorney who charges unlawful possession of marijuana have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in accordance with Measure 91? Or is acting in accordance with Measure 91 an affirmative defense? And perhaps most perplexing of all, how should that element of the crime be phrased for the jury?

These are among the many questions confronting the committee as it works to update the instructions for marijuana crimes. Although the committee was unable to revise these instructions in time for the 2015 UCrJI Supplement, it alerted practitioners to the issue by adding notes to the potentially affected instructions. The committee expects to have revised marijuana-crime instructions ready for the 2016 Supplement. In the meantime, judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors are encouraged to contact committee members with any suggestions.

New Look for Criminal Jury Instructions

By Dean Land, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

Although no one has been keeping track, State v. Mills, 354 Or 350, 312 P3d 515 (2013), probably holds the record for the case that necessitated changes to the most jury instructions. Mills is the Oregon Supreme Court case holding that venue is no longer an issue for the jury. And, as anyone familiar with Oregon’s Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions knows, most of the instructions list the elements of particular crimes, beginning with the venue element: “The act occurred in _______ County, Oregon.”

After Mills came down, the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee had to remove the venue element from 381 instructions. It also withdrew three other instructions that addressed specific venue situations. So Mills accounted for changes to 63% of the instructions in the book (and a headache for a certain staff member of the Legal Publications department).

Rest assured, all those changes and more are incorporated in the 2013 Supplement to the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions. The supplement is available for preorder at a discounted price through January 24 (and at full price thereafter), and the updated instructions will be posted on BarBooks™ by the end of January.