Obsolete Date: 3/1/1999
(a) Instructions to Jury-Written or Oral. The Court shall instruct the jury 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 shall be reduced to writing unless the parties otherwise agree. If written instructions are given they shall be signed by the judge and shall be taken by the jurors in their retirement. When oral instructions are given, they shall 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 shall be returned into court with their verdict.
(b) Requested Instructions. At the close of the evidence or at such earlier time during the trial as the court reasonably directs, any party may file written requests that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the requests. The court may require that each instruction be written on a separate sheet, provided that North 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 such 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 that counsel 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 such exceptions 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 March 1, 2005, in response to the December 2003 amendment of Fed.R.Civ.P. 51. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understandable. New language in subdivisions (a), (c) and (d) clarifies the procedure for requesting instructions and for objecting to court action on instructions and requests.
Rule 51 was amended, effective March 1, 2011, in response to the December 1, 2007, revision of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.
SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of September 24-25, 2009, pages 21-22: January 29-30, 2004, pages 16-18; 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; Fed.R.Civ.P. 51.