Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Circuit Decision on FRCP 51 and Jury Instructions

In last week's decision in DeCaro v. Hasbro, Inc., No. 09-1054, 2009 WL 2767296, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 19707, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit weighed in on FRCP 51(b)(1)'s requirement that "[t]he court must inform the parties of its proposed instructions . . . before instructing the jury and before final jury arguments." The court held that "a district court is under no obligation to give the parties the full text of its intended instructions at any time before the jury is charged." It rejected the argument that the 2003 amendments to Rule 51 intended to change prior practice on this issue. (The court acknowledged that Rule 51 was further amended pursuant to the 2007 restyling, but stressed that "the 2007 revisions were of a purely stylistic nature.")

The decision also addresses the provisions in Rule 51(c)(1) and 51(d)(1)(B) regarding objections to jury instructions.

For additional coverage, see the National Law Journal.


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