1.08 Notetaking

I am going to permit you to take notes in this case, and the courtroom deputy has distributed pencils and pads for your use. I want to give you a couple of warnings about taking notes, however. First of all, do not allow your note-taking to distract you from listening carefully to the testimony that is being presented. If you would prefer not to take notes at all but simply to listen, please feel free to do so. Please remember also from some of your grade-school experiences that not everything you write down is necessarily what was said. Thus, when you return to the jury room to discuss the case, do not assume simply because something appears in somebody's notes that it necessarily took place in court. Instead, it is your collective memory that must control as you deliberate upon the verdict. Please take your notes to the jury room at every recess. I will have the courtroom deputy collect them at the end of each day and place them in the vault. They will then be returned to you the next morning. When the case is over, your notes will be destroyed. These steps are in line with my earlier instruction to you that it is important that you not discuss the case with anyone or permit anyone to discuss it with you.


(1) “The decision to allow the jury to take notes and use them during deliberations is a matter within the discretion of the trial court.” United States v. Porter, 764 F.2d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 1985). The trial judge, however, should explain to jurors that the notes should only be used to refresh their recollections of the evidence presented and “not prevent [them] from getting a full view of the case.” United States v. Oppon, 863 F.2d 141, 148 n.12 (1st Cir. 1988).

(2) The district court is within its discretion to limit when the jurors may take notes during the trial. United States v. Dardea, 70 F.3d 1507, 1537 (1st Cir. 1995) (affirming trial court’s decision to allow jurors to take notes only when viewing exhibits so as not to distract them from live testimony).