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Charles Singletary v. District of Columbia

July 17, 2012

CHARLES SINGLETARY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



JURY INSTRUCTIONS

The function of the judge is to conduct the trial of the case in an orderly, fair, and efficient manner. The judge also must rule upon questions of law arising during the trial, and must tell you the law that applies to this case. It is your duty to accept the law as I state it to you without questioning the wisdom of these instructions. In other words, even if you disagree or do not understand the reasons for any of the instructions, you are bound to follow them.

Your function as jurors is to decide the facts. You are the exclusive judges of the facts. You alone determine the weight, the effect and the value of the evidence, and the believability of the witnesses.

You should decide the facts only from a fair evaluation of all of the evidence, without prejudice, sympathy, fear or favor.

During the course of the trial, you have heard references to the terms plaintiff and defendant. To put it as simply as possible, the plaintiff is the person who starts a lawsuit and the defendant is the person who is sued by the plaintiff.

During your deliberations, however, you must not attach any significance in weighing the evidence to the terms plaintiff and defendant. In other words, the fact that the plaintiff has filed a lawsuit against the defendant does not mean that the plaintiff is entitled to damages in any particular amount, or that his evidence is entitled to greater weight than the defendants' evidence. A plaintiff must prove every element of his damages by a preponderance of the evidence.

It is your duty as jurors to consult with one another and to deliberate expecting to reach an agreement. You must decide the case for yourself but you should do so only after thoroughly discussing it with your fellow jurors. You should not hesitate to change an opinion when convinced that it is wrong. You should not be influenced to vote in any way on any question just because another juror favors a particular decision or holds an opinion different from your own. You should reach an agreement only if you can do so in good conscience. In other words, you should not surrender your honest beliefs about the effect or weight of evidence merely to return a verdict or solely because of other jurors' opinions.

Remember that you are not advocates in this matter. You are neutral judges of the facts. The final test of the quality of your service will lie in the verdict that you return to this courtroom. You will make an important contribution to the cause of justice if you arrive at a just and proper verdict in this case. Therefore, during your deliberations in the jury room, your purpose should not be to support your own opinion but to determine the facts.

You must treat and consider all of these instructions as a whole. You must not single out any particular instruction or sentence while ignoring others. You must give each instruction equal importance and consider each one equally with all other instructions.

The law permits me to comment to you about the evidence in this case. My comments are only my opinions about the facts, and you are not bound by my opinions. If, during the course of this trial, or the giving of these instructions, I have made or make any comment on any evidence, you are free to disregard the comment. Remember, you are the sole and exclusive judges of all questions of fact in this case.

During the course of the trial, I may have asked questions of a witness, to obtain information or to bring out facts. You should not take my questions to witnesses as any indication of my opinion about how you should determine the facts.

If I have said or done anything at any time during this case, including giving these instructions, which seemed to indicate my opinion on any of these matters, then I instruct you to disregard that indication. Nothing I have said or done should influence or suggest to you that I favor any party in this case.

I have not meant to express, or to suggest, any opinion about which witnesses should be believed, or which facts are established.

There may have been times during the trial when a lawyer made an objection to a question asked by another lawyer or to an answer given by a witness. It is the duty of a lawyer to make objections if the lawyer believes something improper is being done. When I sustained an objection to a question, the witness was not allowed to answer it. Do not attempt to guess what the answer might have been had I allowed the question to be answered. Similarly, when I told you to disregard a particular answer -- when I ordered it stricken -- you should have put that statement out of your mind, and you may not refer to that stricken answer during your deliberations.

While it may have been natural for you to become impatient with the delay caused by objections or other portions of the proceedings, you must not let your feelings in any way affect your deliberations. Those interruptions concerned legal matters, while your job is to decide the facts. You should not be influenced by the any lawyer's objections, no matter how I ruled upon them.

Our system of justice requires that you decide the facts of this case in an impartial manner. You must not be influenced by bias, sympathy, prejudice or public opinion. It is a violation of your sworn duty to base your verdict upon anything other than the evidence in the case.

In reaching a just verdict, you must consider and decide this case as an action between persons of equal standing in the community and of equal worth. A city or municipality, whether large or small, has the same right to a fair trial as a private individual. All persons, including municipalities, stand equal before the law and are to be treated as equals in this court. In other words, the fact that a party is a municipality must not affect your decision.

Our system of justice requires that you decide the facts of this case in an impartial manner. You must not be influenced by bias, sympathy, prejudice or public opinion. It is a violation of your sworn duty to base your verdict upon anything other than the evidence in the case.

In reaching a just verdict, you must consider and decide this case as an action between persons of equal standing in the community and of equal worth. All persons stand equal before the law and must be treated as equals in this court.

You may consider only the evidence properly admitted in the case. Evidence includes the sworn testimony of witnesses, exhibits admitted into evidence, and facts stipulated and agreed to by counsel. You may consider any facts to which all counsel have agreed or stipulated to be undisputed evidence.

Another type of evidence includes facts of which I take judicial notice. I may take judicial notice of public acts, places, facts and events which I regard as matters of common knowledge. When I take judicial notice of a particular fact, you shall accept that fact as included in the evidence and proven.

In this case, I have taken judicial notice of the following facts:

1. In January 1984, plaintiff Charles Singletary was convicted of kidnapping while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon in the District of Columbia, and he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 9-27 years.

2. In 1990, Mr. Singletary was released from prison on parole. 3. In 1995, Mr. Singletary was arrested and charged with murder, but the charges were dropped at the preliminary hearing. He was never indicted or prosecuted.

4. In July 1996, the D.C. Parole Board held a hearing to decide whether to revoke Mr. Singletary's parole based on the alleged crime for which he had been arrested in 1995.

5. On August 1, 1996, Mr. Singletary's parole was revoked by the District of Columbia Board of Parole.

6. Upon the revocation of his parole, Mr. Singletary was sent back to prison. 7. While he was in prison, Mr. Singletary challenged the revocation of his parole, by seeking a writ of habeas corpus.

8. Eventually, in 2006, Mr. Singletary's petition for habeas corpus was granted. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the evidence that had been presented at the hearing before the parole board was not reliable, and that therefore, the hearing did not satisfy Mr. Singletary's constitutional right to due process. The Court decided that he was entitled to a new parole-revocation hearing.

9. A new parole-revocation hearing was held and it was determined that the evidence did not support a finding that Mr. ...


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