November 04, 2019 Articles

An Advocate’s Charge: Important Tips for Tailoring Jury Instructions to Your Case

How best to work with a model instruction that works against your client, when you know the judge is likely to require use of the model instruction?

By Lee C. Schmeer

Most courts have model jury instructions, and most judges encourage those trying cases before them to use those instructions. But what happens when an attorney has good reason to believe that a key model instruction diverges from the relevant law in the jurisdiction, particularly when that divergence is to the detriment of his or her client?

It is important to recognize this issue early. It is a best practice to familiarize oneself at the beginning of discovery with the law as it will be presented to the jury so that you know what you need to pursue during discovery.

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