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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 62656 Find in a Library
Title: LANGUAGE AND JURY INSTRUCTIONS - A REPORT PREPARED FOR THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF CANADA (FROM STUDIES ON THE JURY - CANADA, 1979 - SEE NCJ-62650)
Author(s): E R MYERS; C S JONES
Corporate Author: Law Reform Cmssn of Canada
Canada
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 84
Sponsoring Agency: Law Reform Cmssn of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OL6, Canada
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: SEVERAL ASPECTS OF DRAFTING JURY INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE THEM MORE UNDERSTANDABLE ARE DISCUSSED; SUGGESTED AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT AND THE NEED FOR CAREFUL INSTRUCTION PREPARATION ARE EMPHASIZED.
Abstract: TRIAL JUDGES HAVE ALWAYS SHOWN GREAT CONCERN ABOUT THE ACCURACY OF THE LEGAL INSTRUCTIONS THEY GIVE THE JURY. IF THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT ACCURATE, THE DECISION MIGHT BE OVERTURNED BY A HIGHER COURT. THE JUDGE'S DILEMMA IS TO COVER THE LAW ADEQUATELY WHILE KEEPING THE INSTRUCTIONS AS SIMPLE AND UNDERSTANDABLE AS POSSIBLE. ONE POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM, SUGGESTED IN THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION'S WORKING PAPER ON THE JURY, IS THE PREPARATION OF WELL-DRAFTED JURY INSTRUCTIONS WHICH COMBINE LEGAL EXACTNESS WITH LAY COMPREHENSIBILITY. SENTENCE STRUCTURE, LEXICAL COMPLEXITY, PARAGRAPHS AND OVERALL ORGANIZATION, AND PRESENTATION MUST BE CONSIDERED. SENTENCE IS MEASURED NOT JUST IN TERMS OF THE WORDS AND PHRASES; IT IS DETERMINED IN AN INTERMEDIATE STEP THAT INVOLVES MEASURING THE LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF THE SENTENCE. IF THE SENTENCE IS MADE LESS COMPLEX, UNDERSTANDING AND MEMORY SHOULD BE AIDED. LEXICAL FACTORS INCLUDE AVOIDANCE OF THE USE OF JARGON, SYNONYMS, ABSTRACT TERMS, OR FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IN ADDITION, AN ORDERLY PRESENTATION OF THE MATERIAL WILL AID THE JURORS. ORGANIZATION OCCURS ON TWO LEVELS, INTERNAL AND HOLISTIC. FIRST, THERE IS INDIVIDUAL ORGANIZATION OF THE VARIOUS PARTS OF THE INSTRUCTION. THEN, THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS SHOULD BE ORGANIZED ON AN OVERALL BASIS. EACH ISSUE OF LAW, FOR EXAMPLE, SHOULD BE ORGANIZED SEPARATELY. PROPER DELIVERY SHOULD INCLUDE APPROPRIATE TONE OF VOICE AND RECOURSE TO ILLUSTRATION. THE JUDGE SHOULD LOOK AT THE JURY TO INCREASE JUROR ATTENTION. THE JUDGE MUST ALLOW FOR INSTRUCTING A JUROR OF LESS THAN AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE AND FACILITATE THE TECHNIQUE OF REPETITION WHEN NECESSARY. ENDNOTES AND AN EXTENSIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY ARE INCLUDED IN THE PAPER. (LWM)
Index Term(s): Canada; Criminal proceedings; Juries; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Trials; Verdicts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=62656

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