6.06 Charge to a Hung Jury

I am going to instruct you to go back and resume your deliberations. I will explain why and give you further instructions.

In trials absolute certainty can be neither expected nor attained. You should consider that you are selected in the same manner and from the same source as any future jury would be selected. There is no reason to suppose that this case would ever be submitted to 12 men and women more intelligent, more impartial or more competent to decide it than you, or that more or clearer evidence would be produced in the future. Thus, it is your duty to decide the case, if you can conscientiously do so without violence to your individual judgment.

The verdict to which a juror agrees must, of course, be his or her own verdict, the result of his or her own convictions, and not a mere acquiescence in the conclusion of his or her fellow jurors. Yet, in order to bring 12 minds to a unanimous result, you must examine the questions submitted to you with an open mind and with proper regard for, and deference to, the opinion of the other jurors.

In conferring together you ought to pay proper respect to each other's opinions and you ought to listen with a mind open to being convinced by each other's arguments. Thus, where there is disagreement, jurors favoring acquittal should consider whether a doubt in their own mind is a reasonable one when it makes no impression upon the minds of the other equally honest and intelligent jurors who have heard the same evidence with the same degree of attention and with the same desire to arrive at the truth under the sanction of the same oath.

On the other hand, jurors favoring conviction ought seriously to ask themselves whether they should not distrust the weight or sufficiency of evidence which fails to dispel reasonable doubt in the minds of the other jurors.

Not only should jurors in the minority re-examine their positions, but jurors in the majority should do so also, to see whether they have given careful consideration and sufficient weight to the evidence that has favorably impressed the persons in disagreement with them.

Burden of proof is a legal tool for helping you decide. The law imposes upon the prosecution a high burden of proof. The prosecution has the burden to establish, with respect to each count, each essential element of the offense, and to establish that essential element beyond a reasonable doubt. And if with respect to any element of any count you are left in reasonable doubt, the defendant is entitled to the benefit of such doubt and must be acquitted.

It is your duty to decide the case, if you can conscientiously do so without violence to your individual judgment. It is also your duty to return a verdict on any counts as to which all of you agree, even if you cannot agree on all counts. But if you cannot agree, it is your right to fail to agree.

I now instruct you to go back and resume your deliberations.


(1) This charge contains all the elements of the modified Allen+charge approved in United States v. Nichols, 820 F. 2d 508, 511-12 (1st Cir. 1987). In the interest of clarity, these elements have been rearranged and clearer language substituted. The elements satisfy the requirements contained in United States v. Flannery, 451 F.2d 880, 883 (1st Cir. 1971): the instruction must be carefully phrased (1) to place the onus of reexamination on the majority as well as the minority, (2) to remind the jury of the burden of proof and (3) to inform the jury of their right to fail to agree. According to United States v. Angiulo, 485 F.2d 37, 40 (1st Cir. 1973), whenever a jury first informs the court that it is deadlocked, any supplemental instruction which urges the jury to return to its deliberations must include the three balancing elements stated above.

(2) The First Circuit has found such a charge proper upon a sua sponte jury report of deadlock after nine hours of deliberation over two days, see Nichols, 820 F.2d at 511-12, but improper after three hours of deliberation with no jury report of difficulties in agreeing, see Flannery, 451 F.2d at 883.

(3) A direct charge like this must be used once the jury indicates deadlock, rather than an indirect response to a question that may imply an obligation to deliberate indefinitely. See United States v. Manning, 79 F.3d 212, 222-23 (1st Cir. 1996) (finding it improper to respond to jury question whether it was obliged to reach a verdict by asking Would reading any portion of the testimony to you assist you in reaching a decision? ).

(4) In United States v. Barone, No. 94-1593, 1997 WL 292142, at *20 (1st Cir. June 6, 1997), the First Circuit recently cautioned against using the Allen charge a second time because [a] successive charge tends to create a greater degree of pressure. The First Circuit declined, however, to create a per se rule against such use. See id.