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In March 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court released new Model Jury Instructions on Homicide. The Model Jury Instructions on Homicide are intended to provide guidance on those instructions that are frequently given in trials of homicide cases, except vehicular homicide cases. A chalk that summarizes the requirements of proof in cases of first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter is contained in an appendix to the Model Instructions.
The Supreme Judicial Court issued a statement approving and recommending the use of these Model Jury Instructions. The Court additionally recommends that judges provide jurors with a chalk reflecting the requirements of proof for each homicide offense and lesser included offense as well as a recording of the judge's charge and a written copy of the charge where one is available.
As explained in an accompanying report prepared by the Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide, the Committee worked to create a set of instructions that would accurately reflect the current state of the law, and flow in a logical order so that jurors would better understand the instructions. Detailed citations have been provided to support each instruction. These instructions use words consistent with their ordinary meaning where the legal definition of a term differs.
The members of the Committee will review and propose revisions to these instructions as the law develops or changes. Comments on these Model Instructions may be sent to email@example.com, and will be considered in future revisions of these instructions.
The following judges served as members of the Committee:
Hon. Ralph Gants, Supreme Judicial Court
Hon. Margot Botsford, Supreme Judicial Court
Hon. John Corbett, Juvenile Court
Hon. Kenneth Fishman, Superior Court
Hon. Frank Gaziano, Superior Court
Hon. Marianne Hinkle, District Court
Hon. Diane Kottmyer, Superior Court
Hon. David Poole, Boston Municipal Court
Model Jury Instructions*
Chalk* (updated June 24, 2013)
Statement of the Justices
*Word .docx files of these documents are available upon request via email: PublicInfo@sjc.state.ma.us