Friday, April 15, 2011

Jury Instructions in Civil Cases

In, Dunn v. Yeager the Supreme Court of Mississippi looked at the larger picture of Jury instructions in Civil cases.

Typically regarding jury instructions, the trial court possesses considerable discretion to decide what is fair and equitable to both parties. The purpose of a jury instruction is to see that “the jury was fairly instructed and that each party’s proof-grounded theory of the case was placed before it.” [Splain v . Hine s, 609 So. 2d 1234, 1239 (Miss. 1992)] (citing Rester v. Lott, 566 So. 2d 1266, 1269 (Miss. 1990)). We ask whether the instruction at issue contained a correct statement of law and was warranted by the evidence. . . . In analyzing the aggregate jury instructions, “defects in specific instructions will not mandate reversal when all of the instructions, taken as a whole fairly– although not perfectly – announce the applicable primary rules of law.”
The court goes on to examine the jury instructions given by each side for informed consent, and tests just how much discretion the court has in its choice of instructions.

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