Statement of the Justices on the Model Jury Instructions on Implicit Bias
The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court approve the use of the Model Jury Instructions on Implicit Bias (Instructions) found below.
The instructions should be given at all criminal and civil trials, during the preliminary charge following empanelment and during the final charge prior to deliberations.
It is recommended that trial judges use the language of the Instructions unless the judge determines that different language would more accurately or clearly provide comparable guidance to the jury or better promote the fairness of the trial. However, a judge should give careful consideration before making any omission or alteration that affects the substantive guidance of the Instructions because, in most cases, the Instructions will provide appropriate guidance.
The Instructions are not intended to be a comprehensive statement on implicit bias. We also recognize that the Instructions are unlikely to be the final word and may need to evolve based on the experience of judges giving the Instructions and new developments arising from research regarding implicit bias.
We thank the Standing Committee on Eyewitness Identification for its substantial work in researching and proposing the Instructions, and ask the committee to continue to review the applicable research, and recommend revisions as needed or warranted.