Introduction

In April of 2018, the Supreme Judicial Court announced the release of revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide. The Justices first approved and recommended the use of Model Jury Instructions on Homicide in 1999 and issued revised Model Jury Instructions in 2013. The 2018 revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide reflect new developments in the law since 2013.

The Model Jury Instructions are not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law, but rather provide guidance to judges on those instructions that are frequently given in trials of homicide cases, except vehicular homicide cases

Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

The Supreme Judicial Court issued a statement approving and recommending the use of the revised Model Jury Instructions. The Supreme Judicial Court has additionally issued a list summarizing the principal revisions reflected in the Model Jury Instructions.

The Supreme Judicial Court’s statement recommends that judges provide jurors with a written copy of the judge's final instructions, if available, or with an audio recording, or both. A chalk entitled Requirements of Proof for Homicide is included as an appendix to the Model Jury Instructions. The Supreme Judicial Court states that the judge may wish to provide the chalk to jurors to use as an outline to the judge's final instructions.

Statement of the Justices on the Model Jury Instructions on Homicide (2018) (PDF)

Model Jury Instructions on Homicide List of Principal Revisions (revised 2018) (PDF)

Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

The members of the Committee will continue to review changes in the law, to monitor the efficacy of the Instructions in providing guidance to jurors, and to recommend further revisions as needed or warranted. Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano will chair the Committee going forward.  

Comments on these Model Jury Instructions may be sent to modelhomicide@sjc.state.ma.us, and will be considered in future revisions of these instructions.

The following justices served as members of the Committee:

Hon. Ralph Gants, Supreme Judicial Court (chair)

Hon. Margot Botsford, Supreme Judicial Court (ret.)

Hon. Kenneth Fishman, Superior Court

Hon. Frank Gaziano, Supreme Judicial Court

Hon. Dana Gershengorn, Juvenile Court

Hon. Maureen Hogan, Superior Court

Hon. David Poole, Boston Municipal Court

Hon. Sabita Singh, Appeals Court

Hon. Kathe Tuttman, Superior Court

Date published: April 25, 2018

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