Rule 30. Jury Instructions

(a) In General. Any party may request in writing that the court instruct the jury on the law as specified in the request. The request must be made at the close of the evidence or at any earlier time that the court reasonably sets. When the request is made, the requesting party must furnish a copy to every other party.

(b) Ruling on a Request. The court must inform the parties before closing arguments how it intends to rule on the requested instructions.

(c) Time for Giving Instructions. The court may instruct the jury before or after the arguments are completed, or at both times.

(d) Objections to Instructions. A party who objects to any portion of the instructions or to a failure to give a requested instruction must inform the court of the specific objection and the grounds for the objection before the jury retires to deliberate. An opportunity must be given to object out of the jury's hearing and, on request, out of the jury's presence. Failure to object in accordance with this rule precludes appellate review, except as permitted under Rule 52(b).

Notes

(As amended Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 25, 1988, eff. Aug. 1, 1988; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944

This rule corresponds to Rule 51 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix], the second sentence alone being new. It seemed appropriate that on a point such as instructions to juries there should be no difference in procedure between civil and criminal cases.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1966 Amendment

The amendment requires the court, on request of any party, to require the jury to withdraw in order to permit full argument of objections to instructions.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

In its current form, Rule 30 requires that the court instruct the jury after the arguments of counsel. In some districts, usually where the state practice is otherwise, the parties prefer to stipulate to instruction before closing arguments. The purpose of the amendment is to give the court discretion to instruct the jury before or after closing arguments, or at both times. The amendment will permit courts to continue instructing the jury after arguments as Rule 30 had previously required. It will also permit courts to instruct before arguments in order to give the parties an opportunity to argue to the jury in light of the exact language used by the court. See generally Raymond, Merits and Demerits of the Missouri System in Instructing Juries, 5 St. Louis U.L.J. 317 (1959). Finally, the amendment plainly indicates that the court may instruct both before and after arguments, which assures that the court retains power to remedy omissions in pre-argument instructions or to add instructions necessitated by the arguments.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1988 Amendment

The amendment is technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 30 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only, except as noted below.

Rule 30(a) reflects a change in the timing of requests for instructions. As currently written, the trial court may not direct the parties to file such requests before trial without violating Rules 30 and 57. While the amendment falls short of requiring all requests to be made before trial in all cases, the amendment permits a court to do so in a particular case or as a matter of local practice under local rules promulgated under Rule 57. The rule does not preclude the practice of permitting the parties to supplement their requested instructions during the trial.

Rule 30(d) clarifies what, if anything, counsel must do to preserve a claim of error regarding an instruction or failure to instruct. The rule retains the requirement of a contemporaneous and specific objection (before the jury retires to deliberate). As the Supreme Court recognized in Jones v. United States, 527 U.S. 373 (1999), read literally, current Rule 30 could be construed to bar any appellate review absent a timely objection when in fact a court may conduct a limited review under a plain error standard. The amendment does not address the issue of whether objections to the instructions must be renewed after the instructions are given, in order to preserve a claim of error. No change in practice is intended by the amendment.

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