When Mr. Kimmel held a Trial Techniques Practice Law Series at NYCLA, he made an interesting comment that some practitioners may find helpful. Jeffrey Kimmel outlined the importance of Pattern Jury Instructions in lives of judges and the jury. Pattern Jury Instructions (PJIs) are plain English language instructions for the jury. Many appeals overturn trial judges on the issue of jury instructions, which encourages judges to be conservative and give a great deal of deference to the PJIs. This means that the instructions that appear in PJIs will probably be read to the jury. To the trial practitioner, especially from the plaintiff’s side, this means that PJIs need to be engrained into the jury’s head as much as possible from the start of the trial. This is done through continuous repetition of verbiage as written in PJIs. The continuous repetition, mastered by marketing industry (see e.g. here), can indeed be a useful technique with the jury. The jury will hear familiar phrases during the instructions and as a result may be more favorably predisposed to the language they recognize.
Published May 15, 2012 by Yuri Starikov