RULE 51. INSTRUCTIONS TO JURY
(a) Instructions to Jury-Written or Oral. Immediately after the jury is sworn, the court may instruct the jury concerning its duties, its conduct, the order of proceedings, the elementary legal principles governing the proceeding, and the procedure for submitting written questions of witnesses as provided in Rule 6.8, N.D.R.Ct., if allowed by the court. The Court shall instruct the jury immediately before or after the arguments of counsel.
to the jury are concluded.The court shall instruct the jury only as to the law of the case. The instructions shallmust be reduced to writing unless the parties otherwise agree. If written instructions are given they shallmust be signed by the judge and shallmust be taken by the jurors in their retirement. When oral instructions are given, they shallmay not be taken by the jurors in retirement unless, after they have been transcribed, it is so ordered by the court. All instructions taken by the jurors in retirement shallmust be returned into court with their verdict.
(b) Requested Instructions. At the close of the evidence or at
suchan earlier time during the trial as the court reasonably directs, any party may file proposed jury instructions written requests that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the requests. The court may require thateach instruction to be written on a separate sheet, provided thatNorth Dakota pattern jury instructions may be requested by reference to instruction number only. The court shall inform counsel in writing of its action upon requested instructions prior to their argument to the jury. All instructions given by the court to the jurors must be read or given to them orally by the court without disclosing whether suchthe instructions were requested.
(c) Exceptions to Instructions. The giving of instructions and the failure to instruct the jurors are deemed excepted to unless the court, before instructing the jurors, submits to counsel the written instructions it proposes to give to the jurors and asks for exceptions to be noted. Thereupon, counsel shall designate the parts or omissions
of such instructions as thatcounsel considers objectionable. Thereafter, only the parts or omissions so designated are deemed excepted to by the counsel designating the same. All proceedings connected with the taking of suchexceptions must be in the absence of the jurors and a reasonably sufficient time must be allowed counsel to take exceptions and to note them in the record of the proceedings.
Rule 51 was amended, effective 1971; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1999.
Rule 51 is one of the few rules not derived from the federal rule. Instead, it is taken substantially from North Dakota statutes in effect at the time of the adoption of these rules in 1957.
This rule is similar to Rule 30, N.D.R.Crim.P.
Subdivision (a) was amended, effective March 1, 1999, to provide for expanded preliminary jury instructions.
Subdivision (a) was taken from Section 28-1411, NDRC 1943. It provides when and upon what the jury is to be instructed, and the methods of doing so.
The requesting of instructions is governed by subdivision (b), originally taken from Section 28-1412, NDRC 1943, but amended in 1971 to partially comply with the federal rule and to delete the provision requiring the judge to write "given" or "refused" in the margin of each requested instruction.
In requiring the court to inform counsel of its action upon requested instructions, counsel are informed as to which requests are granted or denied, thus enabling counsel to argue the facts in light of the court's instruction upon the law.
Subdivision (c) specifies when exceptions to instructions must be noted. This is taken from Sections 28-1413 and 28-1414, NDRC 1943. Subdivision (c) was amended, effective March 1, 1990. The amendments are technical in nature and no substantive change is intended.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of September 25-26, 1997, pages 16-17; April 20, 1989, pages 2-3; December 3, 1987, page 11; November 29-30, 1979, pages 13-14; Rule 51, FRCivP.
SUPERSEDED: Sections 28-1411, 28-1412, 28-1413, 28-1414, NDRC 1943.
CROSS REFERENCE: Rule 46 (Exceptions Unnecessary), NDRCivP; Rule 30 (Instructions), NDRCrimP; Rule 103 (Rulings on Evidence), NDREv.