United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas
Centennial Bank et al.
Wood et al.
and gentlemen, here are some initial instructions about this
case and your duties as jurors. At the end of the trial I
will give you more instructions. I'll also give you
instructions during the trial. Unless I specifically tell you
otherwise, all my instructions- both those I give you now and
those I give you later-are equally binding on you and must be
the judge of the law and you're the judges of the facts.
Your duty is to determine the truth from the evidence and the
reasonable inferences arising from the evidence. Don't
guess. Don't speculate.
a civil case about a trust and how family members have
handled trust income. Mrs. Mary Stiny is the lifetime
beneficiary of a trust that she and her now-deceased husband
established. Rena Wood is Mrs. Stiny's daughter. Wood
helped her mother manage the trust's assets, including
some apartments in California. Mrs. Stiny has gotten older,
and has now been found incompetent because of dementia.
Centennial Bank has been appointed guardian of Mrs.
Stiny's estate. The Bank filed this case alleging that
Wood has spent trust income, which belonged to Mrs. Stiny,
for herself and others. Wood responds that she spent the
trust income only as directed or approved by Mrs. Stiny
before she became incompetent.
will decide what the truth is. You are entitled to consider
all the evidence in the light of your own observations and
life experiences. Use reason and common sense to draw
conclusions from facts that have been established by the
evidence. Apply those facts to the law that I give you in
these and in my other instructions to reach your verdict.
While you are the sole judges of the facts, you must follow
the law whether you agree with it or not.
allow any sympathy or any prejudice to influence you. The law
demands of you a just verdict, unaffected by anything except
the evidence, your common sense, and the law as I give it to
should not take anything I may say or do during the trial as
indicating what I think of the evidence or what I think your
verdict should be.
evidence includes the testimony of witnesses, documents, and
other things received as exhibits, any facts that have been
stipulated─that is, formally agreed to by Centennial
Bank and Wood─and any facts that have been judicially
noticed─that is, facts which I say you must accept as
true even without evidence.
things are not evidence:
1. Statements, arguments, questions, and comments by lawyers
are not evidence.
2. Objections are not evidence. Lawyers have a right to
object when they believe something is improper. Don't be
influenced by the objections. If I sustain an objection to a
question, ignore the question and don't try to guess what
the answer might have been.
3. Testimony that I strike from the record, or tell you to
disregard, is not evidence. Ignore it.
4. Anything you see or hear about this case outside the
courtroom is not evidence. Ignore it.
particular item of evidence is sometimes received for a
limited purpose only. That is, it can be used by you for one
particular purpose, and not for any other purpose. I will
tell you when that occurs, and instruct you on the purposes
for which they item can and cannot be used.
some of you may have heard the terms “direct
evidence” and “circumstantial evidence.”
Don't be concerned with those terms. The law makes no
distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence. Give