Press Release

Press Release Supreme Judicial Court Announces Revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

For immediate release:
4/25/2018
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Massachusetts Court System
  • Superior Court

Media Contact for Supreme Judicial Court Announces Revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MAThe Supreme Judicial Court today 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.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants chaired the Committee charged with updating the instructions. "I want to thank the dedicated members of the Committee who struggled, given the complexity of our homicide law, to make these instructions accurate and clear," Chief Justice Gants said. "The Committee was greatly assisted by the many lawyers who submitted thoughtful comments on the draft versions of these instructions that were published for public comment."

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.

The Model Jury Instructions, Chalk, Statement of the Justices, and List of Principal Revisions are available on the court’s website.

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.

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.

In addition to Chief Justice Gants, the following justices served as members of the Committee:

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

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Media Contact for Supreme Judicial Court Announces Revised Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 

The Supreme Judicial Court is the Commonwealth's highest appellate court.

Massachusetts Court System 

The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.

Superior Court 

The Superior Court Department is a statewide court that handles both criminal and civil actions.

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