1.09 Outline of the Trial

The first step in the trial will be the opening statements. The government in its opening statement will tell you about the evidence that it intends to put before you, so that you will have an idea of what the government's case is going to be.

Just as the indictment is not evidence, neither is the opening statement evidence. Its purpose is only to help you understand what the evidence will be and what the government will try to prove.

[After the government's opening statement, [defendant]ís attorney may, if [he/she] chooses, make an opening statement. At this point in the trial, no evidence has been offered by either side.]

Next the government will offer evidence that it says will support the charge[s] against [defendant]. The governmentís evidence in this case will consist of the testimony of witnesses, and may include documents and other exhibits. In a moment I will say more about the nature of evidence.

After the government's evidence, [defendant]ís lawyer may [make an opening statement and] present evidence in the [defendant]ís behalf, but [he/she] is not required to do so. I remind you that [defendant] is presumed innocent, and the government must prove the guilt of [defendant] beyond a reasonable doubt. [Defendant] does not have to prove [his/her] innocence.

After you have heard all the evidence on both sides, the government and the defense will each be given time for their final arguments. I just told you that the opening statements by the lawyers are not evidence. The same applies to the closing arguments. They are not evidence either. In their closing arguments the lawyers for the government and [defendant] will attempt to summarize and help you understand the evidence that was presented.

The final part of the trial occurs when I instruct you about the rules of law that you are to use in reaching your verdict. After hearing my instructions, you will leave the courtroom together to make your decisions. Your deliberations will be secret. You will never have to explain your verdict to anyone.


(1) This instruction is derived from Federal Judicial Center Instruction 1.

(2) The third paragraph should be omitted if the defense reserves its opening statement until later. The judge should resolve this issue with the lawyers before giving the instruction.