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.