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Civil Jury Instructions

Using these Instructions

Bold-faced titles and subheadings are included to make the instructions easier to read and are not part of the instruction.

Angle brackets and italicized text are used to enclose directives to follow in customizing the charge. E.g., <insert name of person injured>. Angle brackets are also used to refer to other instructions that may contain some additional useful information. E.g., <Insert Legal Cause, Instruction 3.1-1.>

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Using these Instructions

Alternative Choices
Parentheses are used to indicate that a choice between words or phrases is necessary. This is most commonly used for gender-specific pronouns, e.g., (he/she) or (his/her). It is also used when an instruction offers several terms, not all of which may be applicable to the case. If the choices are lengthy, such that stringing them together in a single parentheses would be cumbersome to read, they are separated into a bulleted list. For example,

These damages may consist of <include as applicable:>

  • direct damages (expectation, reliance),
  • liquidated damages,
  • consequential damages,
  • incidental damages,
    all of which I will explain in a moment.

Optional Language
Square brackets are used to indicate that a portion of the instruction is optional. It will be preceded by an italicized directive defining the circumstances under which the language would be appropriate, unless it is clear from the language itself. For example,

[<If the plaintiff has plead in the alternative:> For you to find for the plaintiff under this legal principle, you must first find that there was no written or oral contract expressed in words and no contract implied by conduct for <insert precise issue>. If you find that there was no contract for <insert precise issue> between the parties, you may consider whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover under promissory estoppel.]

Note that square brackets in commentary have their common meaning, i.e., the paraphrasing of small portions of quoted material.


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