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Jury Instructions

Throughout a trial, the jury receives instructions from the judge. The judge explains the relevant points of law, which the jury is bound to

Jury foreman Joe Collins discusses the jury's verdict in the 1999 trial of John William King in Jasper, Texas. King was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of James Byrd Jr.

accept and to apply. The judge directs the jury to disregard inadmissible testimony and provides guidelines on the way to behave outside of court. During the 1995 trial of O. J. SIMPSON for the murder of his estranged second wife and a friend of hers, for example, Judge Lance Ito issued daily orders to jurors not to discuss the case with anyone. Some instructions vary across jurisdictions and according to judges, such as whether jurors will be allowed to take notes during the trial; generally, they may not. In certain highly publicized trials, the judge may sequester the jury—that is, isolate its members in private living quarters such as hotel rooms in order to shield them from trial publicity. Violating the judge's orders can result in a juror being dismissed from the trial in favor of an alternate juror.

Additional topics

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