US District Court • Southern District of New York

Handbook for Trial Jurors

Serving the United States District Court

Purpose of This Handbook

Importance of Jury Service

The Courts

The Criminal Case

The Civil Case

The Voir Dire Examination

The Jurors' Solemn Oath

The Eight Stages of Trial

The Arguments of Counsel

The Charge to the Jury

The Jury’s Verdict

Courtroom Etiquette

Conduct of the Jury during the Trial

In the Jury Room

After the Trial


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The Charge to the Jury

The charge of a judge to a jury in a United States District Court frequently is much more than a statement of the rules of law. Sometimes it may contain a summary of the facts or some of the facts.

It is the jury’s duty to reach its own conclusion. This is done upon the evidence. The verdict is reached without regard to what may be the opinion of the judge as to the facts, though as to the law the judge’s charge controls.

The judge may point out and may also explain what basic facts are in dispute, and what facts do not actually matter in the case. In other words, the judge may try to direct the jury’s attention to the real merits of the case and impartially summarize the evidence bearing on the questions of fact. The judge will state the law related to the facts presented to the jury.