TPR Jury Introduction and Instructions by erg11737


									                   TPR Jury Introduction and Instructions

       Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is                     . I am a
Children=s Court Judge and preside over Branch ___ of the Milwaukee County
Circuit Court. This court is assigned to hear cases involving children. [[Let me
begin by introducing the staff. Next to me is               . She is our court clerk.
Among many other important duties, she schedules our cases and maintains our
records. Our court reporter today is             . There may be different court
reporters as the trial progresses. Our deputies are             and            .]]
       I want to begin by thanking you for your service. The jury trial is the
foundation of our legal system. It is a feature that sets ours apart from most of the
other nations of the world. Your service on this jury not only benefits the
participants in this case but it gives you a chance to see and experience how your
court system works. I consider you to be guests of the Children=s Court Center
while you are serving on this jury. If you need anything or encounter any problems,
please let one of the bailiffs know. I cannot guarantee that all of your needs will be
met, but we will do our best.

JUV #300
       This is a fact-finding proceeding on a petition to terminate parental rights. It is
conducted pursuant to the Children's Code of this state. It is a civil, not a criminal,
       This hearing is a part of the process that was started by the filing of a petition by
the State of Wisconsin. The petition asks that the parental rights of (parent) to (child),
a _____-year old (boy) (girl), be terminated. The petition alleges that grounds exist to
terminate the parent(s) rights to the child, __________ because the parent(s) (insert
grounds under Wis. Stat. ' 48.415).

       I want to emphasize to you that this hearing is only one part of a process that
may result in the termination of parental rights. You will not be asked to decide if
_________'s parental rights should be terminated. Your responsibility is to determine
whether the grounds for termination alleged in the petition have been proved. In doing
so, you should not consider what the final result of this proceeding might be. If you
determine that grounds for termination of _____________'s parental rights have been
proved, it is my responsibility to determine whether (her) (his) (their) parental rights
should be terminated.
       The petitioner is the State of Wisconsin and is represented in this proceeding by
Assistant District Attorney __________.
       The mother of (child) is _____________. She is represented by Attorney
_____________. [The father of (child) is _____________. He is represented by
Attorney _____________.] [Use the following if one parent is not in the courtroom:
(Parent), the (mother) (father) of (child), is not in the courtroom because (her) (his)
parental rights are not a part of this proceeding.]
       The interests of the child, _______,           will be represented by Attorney
____________, who is the child's guardian ad litem. The child is not in the courtroom
because the laws governing this proceeding do not require that (he) (she) attend.
       At the end of this trial, you will be given a special verdict to answer. At the close
of the case I will give you further instructions on the law that applies to the verdict

Voir Dire Instruction
       The first significant step in this process is to select those of you who will
actually serve on the jury. This process is called the Voir Dire. It is the questioning
of the jury. This gives the attorneys the opportunity to see you and hear you talk so
they can learn something about you as individuals, and to determine if there is any
reason why you could not be fair and impartial in this case. This is the ultimate
purpose of the Voir Dire B to select a fair and impartial jury.
       The questions that will be asked of you are not intended to pry into your
personal lives or embarrass you in any way. If you are uncomfortable with
answering any particular question, please let me know. We can then go into a
private room to discuss the question or your concern.
       [[I will begin by asking all of you a series of general questions that relate to
your qualifications to sit as jurors in this case. When I am finished I will permit
each of the lawyers to ask you some questions of their own.]]
       I would like to begin by learning a little bit about your personal background.
I would like each of you to please stand, state your name and your juror number,
and provide information in answer to the following topics on the board: your
occupation, whether or not you are married, and if you are, your spouses
occupation, whether or not you have children, and if so, their ages, and, in what
part of Milwaukee County you reside. Also, please tell me if you previously served
on a jury and if so, what kind of case or cases, whether or not you reached a verdict,
what that verdict was, and whether or not you were the foreperson.

Court=s Voir Dire

           Next, I want to ask all of you a series of general questions. If your answer to
any question is AYes@, I would like you to raise your hand until I see it and call on

Is any one related by blood or marriage to the parents or acquainted with the
parents in this case? How about the attorneys?

Is anyone related to a member of the D.A.=s office? Is anyone acquainted with
someone who works in the D.A.=s office?

I am now going to ask the attorneys to name those witnesses who they may call to

Is anyone here related to any of these witnesses? Does anyone know any of these

Does anyone here know anything about this case?

Have any of you made up your mind already as to how this case should be decided?

Does anyone have any bias or prejudice, either for, or against, the D.A.=s office or
the parents which would effect your ability to be fair and impartial in deciding this

Has anyone here had any contact with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s
Office, either as a victim of a crime, a witness, or as a charged?

I am planning to end the testimony at 5:00 pm each day. However, to some extent, I
cannot always control the timing of the parties= presentation of their cases. So,
there is a possibility that we might stay late on some days. Who would have a
problem if I asked you to stay past 5:00 pm on a particular day?

Do any of you have any health problems that we should be aware of which might
affect your ability to serve on this jury?

Do any of you think that the State, the Milwaukee County Department of Social
Services or the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare should not have the ability to
remove children from their parents?

Do any of you think it is unfair for outsiders to decide if grounds exist to terminate a
parent=s rights to a child?

Do any of you hold any moral or religious views that would prevent you from
judging another person=s conduct and rendering a fair verdict in this case?

Have any of you, or any member of your immediate family, ever worked for the the
Milwaukee County Department of Social Services or the Bureau of Milwaukee
Child Welfare, or any other similar agency?

Have any of you, or any member of your immediate family, in the course or your
present or past employment, or other regular activity, come into regular contact
with the Milwaukee County Department of Social Services or the Bureau of
Milwaukee Child Welfare, or any other similar agency?

Have any of you, or any member of your immediate family, ever been personally
involved with the Milwaukee County Department of Social Services or the Bureau

of Milwaukee Child Welfare, or any other similar agency regarding your children
or those of your family members?

Do you know personally any families that have been involved with the Milwaukee
County Department of Social Services or the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare,
or any other similar agency?

Have any of you, or any member of your immediate family, been involved in the
Foster Care system, either here in Milwaukee or elsewhere?

Were any of you adopted?

Have any of you, or any members of your immediate family, ever adopted a child?

Do any of you know of a child that has been removed from his or her parents?

Do any of you know a child who was voluntarily given up by his or her parents?

JUV #100 (modified)
       Because this case involves a child and is being heard by the Children's Court,
these proceedings are confidential. The child and the family involved in these
proceedings have a statutory right to the protection of their identities. I must
caution you that any person, including a juror, who discloses the identity of the
child or the family is subject to sanctions for contempt of court. The bailiff will
restrict access to the courtroom and these proceedings are closed to the general
public. You must never disclose the identity of the child or family members to



       [Strikes for cause; Parties begin preemptory strikes (4 to each parent; 4
       divided between State and GAL); Judge dismisses jurors not chosen; Reseat
       and clerk swears jury]


       We are now about to begin the trial of the case about which you have already
heard some details during the process of selecting the jury. Before the trial begins,
however, there are certain instructions you should have to better understand your
functions as a juror and how you should conduct yourself during the trial. I am
confident that if I spend a few minutes with you now, that you will be able to discharge
your function as a juror more intelligently and effectively and will be able to reach a
just verdict at the end of the trial.

       First of all, you should know that the party who brings the lawsuit is called the
plaintiff. In this action, the plaintiff is the State of Wisconsin who is petitioning to
terminate the parental rights of the parents,______________. The parents are the
respondents in this action.

       When I have completed these opening instructions, the lawyers will make
opening statements. The purpose of an opening statement is to outline for you what
each side expects to prove so that you will better understand the evidence as it is
introduced during the trial. I must caution you, however, that the opening statements
are not evidence.

       Evidence is defined as follows:
       1.     testimony of witnesses given in court, both on direct and cross-
              examination, regardless of who called the witness;
       2.     any deposition testimony presented during the trial;
       3.     exhibits admitted by me regardless of whether they go to the jury room;
       4.     any facts to which the lawyers have agreed or stipulated or which I have
              directed you to find.
       Anything you may have seen or heard outside the courtroom is not evidence.
You are to decide the case solely on the evidence offered and received at trial.

       Normally, a plaintiff will produce all witnesses and exhibits supporting
plaintiff's claim against the respondents before the respondent introduces any evidence,
although exceptions are sometimes made to that rule to accommodate a witness. If that
should happen in this case, I will alert you that a witness is testifying out of order.
After the plaintiff's case is presented, the respondent may present witnesses and
exhibits to establish any defenses. There is no requirement that the respondent call any
witnesses or present any evidence [unless the respondent is making a claim against the
plaintiff]. If the respondent does introduce evidence, the plaintiff is then permitted to
offer additional evidence to rebut the respondent's case. Each witness is first examined
by the lawyer who called the witness to testify and then the opposing lawyer is
permitted to cross-examine.

       At times during a trial, objections may be made to the introduction of evidence.
I do not permit arguments on objections to evidence to be made in your presence. Any
ruling upon objections will be based solely upon the law and are not matters which
should concern you at all. You must not infer from any ruling that I make or from
anything that I should say during the trial that I hold any views for or against either
party to this lawsuit.
       During the trial, I will sustain objections to questions asked without permitting
the witness to answer or, where an answer has been made, will instruct that it be
stricken from the record and that you are to disregard it and dismiss it from your
minds. You should not draw any inference from an unanswered question, nor may you
consider testimony which has been stricken in reaching your decision. This is because
the law requires that your decision be made solely upon the competent evidence before

       During the trial, the lawyers may refer to and read from depositions.
Depositions are transcripts of testimony taken before the trial. The testimony may be
that of a party or anybody who has knowledge of facts relating to the lawsuit.
Deposition testimony, just like testimony during the trial, if received into evidence at
the trial, may be considered by you along with the other evidence in reaching your
verdict in this case.

       If somebody were to ask me what a juror's most important function is, I would
unhesitatingly say it is to weigh the credibility or believability of the witnesses. You
cannot discuss intelligently any question on the verdict that will be submitted to you
without first collectively discussing the testimony that you have heard which bears
upon that question. It is most important for you to consider, as you listen to the
testimony of the various witnesses in this trial, whether they are believable. I urge you
not to prejudge the credibility of any witness until you have heard all of the testimony
in the case.
       In judging the credibility of a witness, you should remember that the testimony
of a witness may fail to conform to the facts as they occurred because a witness is not
truthful, because the witness did not accurately see or hear that about which the
witness testifies, because the witness' recollection of the event is faulty, or because the
witness did not clearly testify.
       There is no magical formula by which one may evaluate testimony; however,
you should bring with you to this courtroom all of your experience and background
from your own lives. In everyday affairs, you determine for yourselves the reliability
or unreliability of statements made to you by others. The same tests that you use in
your everyday dealings are the tests which you apply in your deliberations here. The
interest or lack of interest of any witness in the outcome of the case, the bias or
prejudice of a witness, if there be any, the appearance, the manner in which the witness

testifies on the stand, the opportunity that the witness had to observe the facts, the
probability or improbability of the witness' testimony when viewed in the light of all
other evidence in the case are important factors to consider when you determine the
overall weight and credit that you give to that witness' testimony.
       If it appears that there is a discrepancy in the evidence, you will have to consider
whether the apparent discrepancy can be reconciled. If, however, that is not possible,
you must then determine which of the conflicting versions you will accept as appealing
more to your good judgment and common sense.

       You may have heard the term "burden of proof" before today. In every trial
there is a burden of proof. The phrase "burden of proof" means that when a party
comes into a courtroom and makes a claim, as the plaintiff is making here, the law says
that claim must be proved. After the trial, I will instruct you on the proper burden of
proof to be applied in this case.
       To put this another way, you are not allowed to guess what the answers on the
verdict should be. The party who has the burden of proof as to any question on the
verdict wants you to answer the question "yes." Only if the party has convinced you
that the answer should be "yes" to a reasonable certainty has the burden of proof been
met; otherwise, the question must be answered "no."

       [Insert if no objection or if requested]

       As far as your own conduct during the trial, I must caution you that you are not
to discuss this case either among yourselves or with anyone else during the trial. In
fairness to the parties to this lawsuit, you should keep an open mind throughout the
trial, reaching your conclusion only during your final deliberations after all the
evidence is in and you have heard the attorneys' closing arguments and my instructions
on the law. You will then be in a position to intelligently and fairly exchange your
views with other jurors as you deliberate upon the verdict to be submitted to you.
       I appreciate that it is tempting when you go home in the evening to discuss this
case with your spouse or another member of your household. Please do not permit any
third person to discuss this case in your presence, and if anyone does so despite your
telling them not to, you should report that fact to me as soon as you are able to. It is a
normal human tendency to converse with people with whom one is thrown into contact;
however, please do not, during the time you serve on this jury, speak, whether in or out
of the courtroom, with any of the parties or their lawyers or any witnesses. By this I
mean not only do not speak about the case but also do not speak at all even to pass the
time of day. In no other way can all the parties be assured of the absolute impartiality
they are entitled to expect from you as jurors.
       Since you will be deciding this case solely on the evidence received along with my
instructions on the law, you must not make any independent investigation of the facts
or the law.
       This means, for example, you must not [[read or listen to media accounts,]] visit
any locations mentioned during the trial, conduct experiments, or consult with
dictionaries or any other reference materials for additional information.
       Additionally, because this trial is expected to be short, no note taking will be

       After all of the evidence has been introduced and the parties have rested, the
lawyers will again have an opportunity to address you in a closing argument, or
summation. I will cover the function of a closing argument in more detail after the
evidence has been presented; however, it is sufficient for now to tell you that while the
closing arguments are very important, you again are cautioned that you are not bound
by the argument of any lawyer. The function of a closing argument is to give counsel
the opportunity to evaluate the evidence as they see it and to urge upon you what
conclusions they believe you should draw from the evidence.
       After the final arguments are concluded, I will instruct you on the rules of law
applicable to the case, and you will then retire for your deliberations. Your function as
jurors is to determine what the facts are and to apply the rules of law that I give you to
the facts. The conclusion you reach will be your verdict. You will determine what the
facts are from all the testimony that you hear and from exhibits that are submitted to
you. You are the sole and exclusive judges of the facts. In that field, neither I nor
anyone may invade your province. I will try to preside impartially during this trial and
not to express any opinion concerning the facts. Any views of mine as to what the facts
are are totally irrelevant.
       I do caution you, however, that under your oath as jurors, you are duty bound
to accept the rules of law that I give you whether you agree with them or not. As the
sole judges of the facts in this case, you must determine which of the witnesses you
believe, what portion of their testimony you accept, and what weight you attach to it.
       We have now reached that stage of the proceedings where the lawyers will be
afforded the opportunity to make an opening statement. As I told you earlier, after
they have completed their opening statements, we will begin the trial, by plaintiff's
lawyer calling the first witness.

                                                                           Wall 02/04


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