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Using AllSearch to draft Jury Instructions
Using AllSearch to draft Jury Instructions
Elaine Cheek avatar
Written by Elaine Cheek
Updated over a week ago

Drafting jury instructions is sometimes the last thing an attorney wants to do in the midst of preparing for a jury trial. Having a template for jury instructions can be a lifesaver, and having case law at the ready during the settling of instructions can save valuable time and prepare you to make the best record.

Sometimes, while you might hate to admit it, “researching” your instructions might mean emailing everyone you know asking if they have ever written or used an instruction on “X” issue. It can mean searching through your State’s instructions, if they have pattern instructions, or resorting to your old friend, Google.

Allsearch allows you to save time and energy when it comes to jury instructions. Because Allsearch allows you to create your own database, using whatever documents you would like, you can create your very own unique jury instruction database.

In your database, you can include a variety of documents: instructions you have used in previous cases, your State’s pattern instructions, instructions from colleagues, case law on jury instructions, hand-outs from CLEs you may have attended, as well as your own notes, and even opposing counsel’s instructions.

Allsearch then allows you to search your database using our Parallel Search technology, or using keyword search. Parallel Search is far superior to keyword search. Parallel search frees you from the days of having to construct a boolean search or finding results that simply mention a word from your search but are actually not relevant in any way. Parallel Search uses an algorithm to determine the context of your search and search for that same concept. This article provides more information on Parallel Search.

Below is an example taken from a sample database comprised of a variety of jury instructions, and some case law.

In this example, we are looking for instructions to help with the defense of negating the intent requirement in a criminal case. We used the search query: Defendant did not have the requisite intent. As you can see, a parallel search found examples of instructions relevant to that query.

Because you create the database, you do not need to search through an entire database of instructions that may not be relevant to your area of practice. Also, because the database is within the Casetext interface, it is easy to cut and paste a case cite into the regular search window to ensure that the case you want to use is still good law, and to see if there have been any subsequent cases that may also be germane.

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