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Jury Instructions Research Guide: United States Courts of Appeals

Jury instructions are directions from the judge to the jury regarding the applicable law specific to the case being tried. They serve as a guide to assist the jurors in understanding the legal and factual issues and in reaching a verdict.

Finding Jury Instructions

Find instructions using these databases. Access is restricted and requires individual username and password.


Bloomberg Law - Choose Litigation → Dockets Tab → Litigation Resources → Other Court Materials → Federal and State Jury Instructions

 

LexisAdvance - Choose Browse → Sources by Category → Jury Instructions

 

Westlaw - Choose All Content → Secondary Sources → Jury Instructions

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United States Courts of Appeals Jury Instructions

The federal courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts between the district, or trial courts, and the United States Supreme Court. There are thirteen courts of appeals: eleven numbered circuits (First through Eleventh), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Not all circuits have published  jury instructions: the Second and Fourth Circuits do not. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a unique court in that it has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas. Appeals are heard by panels comprised of three judges. There are no jury instructions for this court. Title 28 of the United States Code, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the court's Rules of Practice and Internal Operating Procedures govern procedure in the Federal Circuit.

Please see the boxes below for jury instructions for specific federal courts of appeals.

First Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is composed of the district courts in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island.

Third Circuit

Fifth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is composed of the district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the Canal Zone.

Sixth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is composed of district courts in Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.

Ninth Circuit

Tenth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is composed of the district courts in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, plus those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho.

Eleventh Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit is composed of the district courts in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

District of Columbia Circuit

Jury instructions for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are published in Standardized Civil Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia and Criminal Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia. Both titles are published by Matthew Bender and can be found online on Lexis. Access to Lexis is restricted to faculty and students of Marquette University Law School through individual usernames and passwords.

District Courts

The United States District Courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. The district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including civil and criminal matters. Trial courts include a district court judge and a jury that decides the case. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state and the District of Columbia. Four territories, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, have U.S. district courts which hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.

Many federal district courts include jury instructions on their websites. Some judges may have their own preferred standard jury instructions. To find the instructions, go to the court's website and also check the judges' listings. Lists of district courts can be found at the Court Websites Links page of the United States Courts website with links to the district courts websites. A list of the United States District Courts, arranged alphabetically by state, with links to the Courts' websites can be found on Findlaw. Jury instructions for some district courts are included. The directories listed below may be useful for providing contact information for district courts as well as specific judges.