152 So.3d 529 (Fla. 2014), SC14-623, In re Std. Jury Instructions in Civ., Crim., Contract & Bus. Cases

Docket Nº:SC14-623
Citation:152 So.3d 529, 39 Fla. L. Weekly S 723
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:IN RE: STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL, AND CONTRACT & BUSINESS CASES--JURORS' USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES
Attorney:Joseph Hagedorn Lang, Jr., Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., Tampa, Florida, Rebecca Mercier Vargas, Subcommittee Chair, Juror Conduct Civil Subcommittee, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Ca...
Judge Panel:LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur. LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.
Case Date:December 04, 2014
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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Page 529

152 So.3d 529 (Fla. 2014)

39 Fla. L. Weekly S 723

IN RE: STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL, AND CONTRACT & BUSINESS CASES--JURORS' USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES

No. SC14-623

Supreme Court of Florida

December 4, 2014

Joseph Hagedorn Lang, Jr., Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., Tampa, Florida, Rebecca Mercier Vargas, Subcommittee Chair, Juror Conduct Civil Subcommittee, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, Kreusler-Walsh, Compiani & Vargas, P.A., West Palm Beach, Florida, and Heather Savage Telfer, Bar Staff Liaison, The Florida Bar, Tallahassee, Florida; Judge Jerri Lynn Collins, Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, Sanford, Florida, Judge Joseph Anthony Bulone, Past Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, Clearwater, Florida, and Bart Neil Schneider, Staff Liaison, Office of the State Courts Administrator, Tallahassee, Florida; Manuel Farach, Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Contract and Business Cases, Richman Greer, P.A., West Palm Beach, Florida, and Josine Rene Blackwell, Bar Staff Liaison, The Florida Bar, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner.

LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Original Proceeding -- Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions

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PER CURIAM.

The Supreme Court Committees on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil, Criminal, and Contract and Business Cases (Committees) have submitted proposed changes to their respective standard jury instructions and ask that the Court authorize the amended standard instructions for publication and use. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 2(a), Fla. Const.

In In re Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration--Rule 2.451 ( Use of Electronic Devices), 118 So.3d 193, 194 n.3 (Fla. 2013), the Court requested the Committees " to review their respective bodies of instructions and propose any amendments needed to conform the instructions to [new rule 2.451]."

Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.451(b) gives trial judges considerable discretion for how and when to remove electronic devices from jurors. The rule provides that electronic devices will be removed from all members of a jury panel before jury deliberations begin. The presiding judge may remove the jurors' electronic devices at other stages of the trial. If electronic devices are removed from members of the jury panel during trial, the judge may order them returned during recesses. If a jury panel is sequestered, the judge may decide whether to remove electronic devices during the entire period of sequestration. The rule also makes clear that during court proceedings, jurors cannot use their electronic devices to take photos or videos, or to transmit or access data or text. At all times, jurors are prohibited from using the devices to research information about the case or to communicate with others about the case or jury deliberations.

The three Committees formed a joint subcommittee to consider rule 2.451, with the goal of working together to draft uniform language on electronic devices that could be used in each Committee's instructions. The Civil Committee and the Contract and Business Committee propose amending the following instructions: Qualifications Instruction; Instruction 201.2 (Introduction of Participants and Their Roles); Instruction 201.3 (Explanation of the Voir Dire Process); Instruction 202.2 (Explanation of the Trial Procedure); Instruction 301.10 (Instruction Before Recess); and Instruction Section 700 (Closing Instructions). The Criminal Committee proposes amendments to the following criminal instructions: Qualifications Instruction; Instruction 1.1 (Introduction); Instruction 2.1 (Preliminary Instructions); and Instruction 3.13 (Submitting Case to Jury); and amendments to the following instructions for Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predator (Jimmy Ryce) cases: Qualifications Instruction; Instruction 1.001 (Introduction); Instruction 1.01 (Preliminary Instruction); and Instruction 2.08 (Verdict and Submitting Case to Jury).

All of the proposals were published in The Florida Bar News, except the Criminal Committee did make some revisions to its proposals that were not republished. The Criminal Committee made revisions to its proposals in light of the proposals made by the Civil and Contracts and Business Committees' proposals. No comments were received by the Committees.

Having considered the Committees' report, we authorize for publication and use the standard jury instructions as amended by the Committees, with additional amendments

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added by the Court. The criminal jury instructions, including both those directly pertaining to criminal cases (Qualifications Instruction, Instruction 1.1 (Introduction), and Instruction 2.1 (Preliminary Instructions)) and those for Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predator (Jimmy Ryce) cases (Qualifications Instruction and Instruction 1.01 (Preliminary Instruction)), are also amended, consistent with the Civil and Contracts and Business Committees' proposals, to make clear that failure to follow the court's instructions concerning the use of electronic devices may result in a mistrial and that the offending juror may be subject to contempt of court.

We authorize the amended instructions, as set forth in the appendix to this opinion, for publication and use.1 We thank the joint subcommittee and the Committees for their work in proposing modifications to the standard jury instructions consistent with rule 2.451. New language is indicated by underlining, and deleted language is indicated by struck-through type. In authorizing the publication and use of these instructions, we express no opinion on their correctness and remind all interested parties that this authorization forecloses neither requesting additional or alternative instructions nor contesting the legal correctness of the instructions. We further caution all interested parties that any comments associated with the instructions reflect only the opinion of the Committees and are not necessarily indicative of the views of this Court as to their correctness or applicability. The instructions as set forth in the appendix shall become effective when this opinion becomes final.

It is so ordered.

LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur.

APPENDIX

Standard Jury Instructions for Civil Cases and Contract and Business Cases

QUALIFICATIONS INSTRUCTION

Many of you have electronic devices such as cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and laptopscomputers, and other electronic devices. Even though you have not yet been selected as a juror, there are some strict rules that you must follow about using your cell phones, electronic devices and computers.

When you are called to a courtroom, the judge will give you specific instructions on the use of electronic devices. These rules are so important that the judge may tell you that you must turn off your cell phone or other electronic devices completely or that you cannot have your cell phone or electronic devices in the courtroom. If someone needs to contact you in case of an emergency, the judge will provide you with a phone number where you can receive messages.

If the trial judge allows you to keep your cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices, you cannot use them to take photographs, video recordings,

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or audio recordings of the proceedings in the courtroom or your fellow jurors. You must not use the many device to search the Internet or to find out anything related to any cases in the courthouse.

Why is this restriction imposed? This restriction is imposed because jurors must decide the case without distraction and only on the evidence presented in the courtroom. I know that, for some of you, these restrictions affect your normal daily activities and may require a change in the way you are used to communicating and perhaps even in the way you are used to learning.

If you investigate, research, or make inquiries on your own, the trial judge has no way to make sure that the information you obtain is proper for the case. The parties likewise have no opportunity to dispute or challenge the accuracy of what you find. Any independent investigation by a juror unfairly and improperly prevents the parties from having that opportunity our judicial system promises.

Between now and when you have been discharged from jury duty by the judge, you must not provide or receive discuss any information about your jury service to with anyone, including friends, co-workers, and family members. You may tell those who need to know where you are that you have been called for jury duty. If you are picked for a jury, you may tell people that you have been picked for a jury and how long the case may take. However, you must not give anyone any information about the case itself or the people involved in the case. You must also warn people not to try to say anything to you or write to you about your jury service or the case. This includes face-to-face, phone or computer communications.

In this age of electronic communication, I want to stress that you must not use electronic devices or computers to talk about this case, including tweeting, texting, blogging, e-mailing, posting information on a website or chat room, or any other means at all. Do not send or accept any messages, including e-mail and text messages, about your jury service. You must not disclose your thoughts about your jury service or...

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