Jury instructions identify the basic elements of civil claims, criminal charges, and defenses, with accompanying citations to relevant cases, statutes, and secondary sources (including forms).
They can help you:
Most courts publish official jury instructions, also called model or pattern jury instructions. These instructions provide you with valuable insight into the courts' view of the law but do not cover every scenario and typically need to be modified to fit the facts of the specific case.
Both Lexis and Westlaw provide treatises with guidance on modifying instructions, unofficial model instructions for specific scenarios, and databases of jury instructions from real cases.
California has two major sets of model jury instructions.
Both Matthew Bender (Lexis) and West (Westlaw) publish treatises that provide guidance on adapting the model instructions for use in real cases.
Most federal circuits, including the Ninth Circuit, produce optional model or pattern jury instructions. Both Matthew Bender (Lexis) and West (Westlaw) publish treatises that include the full text of the model or pattern jury instructions, with extensive guidance on adapting them for use in real cases.
Several publishers offer model jury instructions for specific practice areas.
Most notably, the ABA produces a series of model jury instructions on specific topics, some of which are available on a case by case basis on Westlaw or Lexis. Bender also produces a series of jury instructions on specific topics, available on Lexis.
LLRX and the Seventh Circuit law library have compiled directories of free, official jury instructions available online.
Additionally, Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg all provide access to official and unofficial jury instructions from multiple states and federal circuits.