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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.10-3  Sympathy

Revised to May 10, 2012

In deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty, you should not concern yourselves with the punishment or potential consequence in the event of a conviction.  This is a matter exclusively within the court's function under the limitations and restrictions imposed by statute.  You are to find the defendant guilty or not guilty uninfluenced by the possible punishment or consequence that may follow conviction. 

You should not be influenced by any sympathy for the defendant, the defendant's family, the (complainant / decedent), the (complainant's / decedent's) family, or for any other person who might in any way be affected by your decision.

In addition, as I indicated earlier, your verdict must be based on the evidence and you may not go outside the evidence to find facts; that is, you may not resort to guesswork, conjecture or suspicion, and you must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices, biases or sympathy.

In sum, your task is to render a verdict based on facts and not on concerns about punishment, sympathy, prejudice or bias. I instruct you that decisions based upon biases for or against other people or stereotypes regarding other people have no place in the courtroom.

Commentary

The second paragraph was cited in State v. James, 54 Conn. App. 26, 49, cert. denied, 251 Conn. 903 (1999), as curative of improper statements of prosecutor that appealed to the jury's sympathy.
 


 

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