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Trial Advocacy Research Guide: Jury Instructions

This guide provides information about and links to the most popular and most cited sources for trial advocacy. Topics include opening/closing arguments, pre-trial procedure, trial evidence, examination of witnesses, and jury selection.

About Jury Instructions

Many jurisdictions, both state and federal, have approved "pattern" or "uniform" instructions for frequently-tried cases.  A party must use pattern instructions if they are provided.  If there are no pattern instructions for a particular case or cause, the attorneys must draft them.  In that case, one may consult "non-pattern" or "model" instructions provided by legal publishers, pattern instructions from another jurisdiction, or one may seek appropriate language from governing statutory or case law.

This page contains links to pattern instructions, non-pattern instructions and encyclopedic sets of instructions (including both pattern and complementary "non-pattern" instructions) for use in federal courts and Illinois courts.  In addition, this guide provides links to many sets of subject-specific jury instructions.   One should consult Lexis Advance or WestlawNext for the latest version of state-specific or Circuit-specific federal instructions.  Many jurisdictions now provide free access to pattern jury instructions via court websites.

Note: Because jury instructions provide the "law" for a given trial and jury instructions also frequently provide commentary that summarizes the authority behind the instruction, they often provide an excellent starting point for legal research.

Federal Jury Instructions

One can find federal jury instructions--both pattern and non-pattern in the encyclopedic sources listed below.  In addition, Westlaw provides access to many sets of jury instructions in the following combined databases:

Lexis Advance provides access to federal jury instructions via

Once again, many federal circuits provide access to pattern instructions via the court website.

Illinois Jury Instructions

There are both pattern and non-pattern jury instructions available for Illinois cases.  Illinois Pattern Jury instructions are no longer updated in print.  These instructions are available online via Lexis Advance or Westlaw or for free via the official Illinois Courts website.

Subject-specific Jury Instructions

A variety of publishers offer jury instructions and jury practice tips for specific types of cases.  The list is a sampling of the variety of subject-specific titles that exist.  Many of the titles are available via Lexis Advance or WestlawNext.  Some, however are still available only in print.

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