CR 51: INSTRUCTIONS TO JURY AND DELIBERATION

(a) Proposed.

Unless otherwise requested by the trial judge on timely notice to counsel, proposed instructions shall be submitted when the case is called for trial. Proposed instructions upon questions of law developed by the evidence, which could not reasonably be anticipated, may be submitted at any time before the court has instructed the jury.

(b) Submission.

Submission of proposed instructions shall be by delivering the original and three or more copies as required by the trial judge, by filing one copy with the clerk, identified as the party's proposed instructions, and by serving one copy upon each opposing counsel.

(c) Form.

Each proposed instruction shall be typewritten or printed on a separate sheet of letter-size (8-1/2 by 11 inches) paper. Except for one copy of each, the instructions delivered to the trial court shall not be numbered or identified as to the proposing party. One copy delivered to the trial court, and the copy filed with the clerk, and copies served on each opposing counsel shall be numbered and identified as to proposing party, and may contain supporting annotations.

(d) Published Instructions.

(1) Request. Any instruction appearing in the Washington Pattern Instructions (WPI) may be requested by counsel who must submit the proper number of copies of the requested instruction, identified by number as in section (c) of this rule, in the form counsel wishes it read to the jury. If the instruction in WPI allows or provides for a choice of wording by the use of brackets or otherwise, the written requested instruction shall use the choice of wording which is being requested.

(2) Record on Review. Where the refusal to give a requested instruction is an asserted error on review, a copy of the requested instruction shall be placed in the record on review.

(3) Local Option. Any superior court may adopt a local rule to substitute for subsection (d)(1) and to allow instructions appearing in the Washington Pattern Instructions (WPI) to be requested by reference to the published number. If the instruction in WPI allows or provides for a choice of wording by the use of brackets or otherwise, the local rule must require that the written request which designates the number of the instruction shall also designate the choice of wording which is being requested.

(e) Disregarding Requests.

The trial court may disregard any proposed instruction not submitted in accordance with this rule.

(f) Objections to Instruction.

Before instructing the jury, the court shall supply counsel with copies of its proposed instructions which shall be numbered. Counsel shall then be afforded an opportunity in the absence of the jury to make objections to the giving of any instruction and to the refusal to give a requested instruction. The objector shall state distinctly the matter to which counsel objects and the grounds of counsel's objection, specifying the number, paragraph or particular part of the instruction to be given or refused and to which objection is made.

(g) Instructing the Jury and Argument.

After counsel have completed their objections and the court has made any modifications deemed appropriate, the court shall then provide each counsel with a copy of the instructions in their final form. The court shall then read the instructions to the jury. The plaintiff or party having the burden of proof may then address the jury upon the evidence, and the law as contained in the courts instructions; after which the adverse party may address the jury; followed by the rebuttal of the party first addressing the jury.

(h) Deliberation.

After argument, the jury shall retire to consider its verdict. In addition to the written instructions given, the jury shall take with it all exhibits received in evidence, except depositions. Copies may be substituted for any parts of public records or private documents as ought not, in the opinion of the court, to be taken from the person having them in possession. Pleadings shall not go to the jury room.

(i) Questions from Jury During Deliberations.

The jury shall be instructed that any question it wishes to ask the court about the instructions or evidence should be signed, dated and submitted in writing to the bailiff without any indication of the status of the jury's deliberations. The court shall notify the parties of the contents of the questions and provide them an opportunity to comment upon an appropriate response. Written questions from the jury, the court's response and any objections thereto shall be made a part of the record. The court shall respond to all questions from a deliberating jury in open court or in writing. In its discretion, the court may grant a jury's request to rehear or replay evidence, but should do so in a way that is least likely to be seen as a comment on the evidence, in a way that is not unfairly prejudicial and in a way that minimizes the possibility that jurors will give undue weight to such evidence. Any additional instruction upon any point of law shall be given in writing.

(j) Comments Upon Evidence.

Judges shall not instruct with respect to matters of fact, nor comment thereon.

[Originally effective July 1, 1967; amended effective November 3, 1967; March 29, 1968; January 1, 1977; amended effective October 1, 2002; April 28, 2015.]

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