Jury Trial Instruction

A set of Jury Trial Instruction is an indispensable guide in order for a Trial Jury to function. It must be issued by reading it to the jury by the presiding judge at the start of a trial. (NOTE: This Instruction does not apply to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury has its own special set of instruction and you may read it in this LINK.

In the course of the jury trial, the presiding judge has to perform the following as a part of his duties:

1. To enforce court discipline;

2. To rule in the admissibility of the evidence;

3. To issue other instructions as are needed in the course of a jury trial.

The most important of all the jury trial instruction, the presiding judge has to issue, is the "Statutory Basic Jury Instruction." The presiding judge is mandatorily required to read and issue this instruction to the jury WITHOUT DEVIATION to prevent him from making discriminatory statement against any party or witness. He is like an umpire and must remain neutral at all times.

A presiding judge who shall deviate in issuing of the Statutory Basic Jury Instruction to discriminate a party can be liable for the crime of obstruction of justice upon the indictment by the Grand Jury on the basis of a complaint by the aggrieved party.

The following is the proposed "Statutory Basic Jury Instruction" for the Philippine Jury System Law. This instruction shall be read, issued and spontaneously interpreted to the jury in the local dialect of the Jurors.

Alternatively, an accurate and complete translation of this instruction should be made into the local dialect of the jurors for reading without deviation while issuing to the jury:

Section 3. The Statutory Basic Jury Trial Instruction -

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

"Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, of the Philippine Constitution, you have been randomly chosen to sit and serve in this jury to solemnly exercise the sovereign power of the people to do and give justice for all. We welcome and thank you for waiting patiently and for your eagerness to serve in this jury.

First of all, there are:

Benefits For Serving in the Jury

"Be informed that you will be compensated for serving your jury duty. For each day of your service, you will be paid with the prevailing minimum wage in this locality. In addition, you will likewise be entitled to a noon time meal. The clerk of this court shall provide you with a launch ticket which you can present to a nearby restaurant to this court. Please remind the clerk of court to issue the ticket for you that shall indicate your Security ID Number only and not your real name.

"Additionally, while serving for jury duty and you suffer serious injury, you, or in case of death your next of kin, shall be entitled to collect a certain amount of indemnity as provided in the Jury Systems Law.

"In your trip in coming to and from this court, your fare will be paid. For this purpose, you will be given a transportation ticket which you will obtain from the clerk of this court and you will, in turn, present it to the operator of the vehicle who shall provide you with your transportation."

And now, here is your:

Jury Trial Instruction

In order to achieve your mission, you are required to strictly observe and obey the following Jury Trial Instruction.

"For your personal and family protection or safety and to keep absolute fairness and integrity in our jury trial proceedings, I hereby instruct you:

(1) To carefully listen, remain silent, and follow my instructions. You may wear a pair of dark eyeglasses during your jury service to minimize exposure of your face to the public;

(2) (a) You must remain seated throughout the proceedings in court except when I or the bailiff ask you to stand. You must avoid informing anyone outside this courtroom that you are a juror in this case. From this moment on, you shall have the right to refuse to disclose or reveal your name to anyone in this court room.

(b) If you are employed with a private employer or company, you likewise have the right to refuse to disclose or reveal the name or description of your employer.

(c) However, if you are employed in any branch of the government, government instrumentality, local government unit, or armed or police services, or government owned or controlled or quasi-government corporation, or as a body guard of a government official even if you are a private citizen, you are required to disclose or reveal the name of the government entity you are employed with or the name of your supervisor or the public official for whom you are serving or acting as his body guard.

(3) Each and all of you must be present in this court from the beginning to the end of this jury trial-

(a) It is absolutely important that you arrive on time when each further proceedings begins from your recess or continuance of the proceedings from the previous day.

(b) You must bear in mind that this jury cannot proceed to perform its job in the absence of any one of you. The presence of each of you is as important as the presence of both the attorneys in this case.

(c) Merely calling in that you are sick is not an acceptable excuse. If you are truly seriously sick, you must ask your doctor to appear before this court to explain in your behalf the seriousness of your illness. This instruction likewise applies absolutely with the alternate jurors.

(d) This proceeding is not like an ordinary meeting where a quorum is enough to proceed with the majority of its members present. Do not think that because a majority of your fellow jurors is present, you can leisurely spend your sweet time with someone or something outside. It is imperative that each word or statement said in this proceeding must be heard by each and all of you at the same time.

(e) I must emphasize that the trial cannot proceed if one of you is not seated. You cannot simply go away from this proceeding just because you did not like hearing what has been said by anyone in this court. You must be warned that this court will not hesitate to order your instant imprisonment in jail for direct contempt of court if you violate this instruction.

(4) You must dress up with ordinary attire without fanciness to avoid distracting attention in the proceedings.

(5) You must not discuss or talk about this case among yourselves as jurors. Yes, that is right. You are not allowed to talk with your fellow jurors about this case, anytime, anywhere, or by telephone until I permit you to do so in your deliberation room. If you know of any of your fellow jurors speak or attempt to speak anything about this case, it is your duty to report such juror to the judge through the bailiff. You are likewise strictly prohibited to discuss with your family members or friends about the evidence, witnesses, or any aspect of this case.

(6) Alternatively, if you have personally observed your co-juror or anyone in this court of having violated any of the jury instructions I have read or issued to you, you must confidentially report without seeking permission from this court such violation to the Grand Jury for its secret investigation by placing your report at the "Citizens' Secret Crime Reports Drop Box" somewhere in the hallway of this court or of the court of the Executive Judge of this Jury District.

(7) It is equally important that you avoid calling on a cell phone with anyone about this case. Regarding any matter, this case or any other thing whatsoever, you must avoid speaking with any lawyer, government official, police, army or military personnel, officer, or co-employee or supervisor or employer, not even with your spouses or any member of your family or to any person whomsoever. You must not make any write up or communication or email in the Internet about this case. This means that you must not start a gossip about anything while this case is still going on for trial. Before you enter the deliberation room, I will require you to deposit your cell phones with my clerk of court who shall issue to you a receipt. Make sure you mark your cell phones with appropriate identification. Present your receipt when getting back your cell phone. If any of your fellow juror shall surreptitiously bring in a cell phone in your deliberating room, each and any of you shall have the responsibility to report such matter to this court through the bailiff or sheriff.

(8) Bear in mind that if anyone hears you talk about this matter, you could start a gossip without knowing it and you may find yourself unexpectedly inviting at your doorsteps a crowd of media people, the interested parties and their relatives in this case and all other investigators that may even prevent or delay you in coming back to this trial. With your negligence in mentioning about this case with anybody, the case that you are working on could end in a mistrial for which you will be held in contempt of court and further be responsible to pay the expenses of the parties and jurors fees in this case.

(9) Should you violate any of my instructions, I will hold you liable for payment of the expenses of this proceedings and declare you in contempt of court for which I will order your imprisonment in jail for the duration of this trial until it is finally decided by another jury. I will further order non-payment of your jury attendance allowance;

(10) If you are unable to hear or see the evidence presented during the trial, it is your duty to inform me or the bailiff, not with anybody else, so that appropriate arrangements can be made for you. If anyone of you may notice a fellow juror immediate to your side who may be getting sleepy or bored, you must do a little shaking by your elbow to wake him or her up but do not overdo it. I will not tolerate any teasing or horseplay while the trial is going on. I am addressing this particular instruction to counsels likewise. If you think your presiding judge is also getting sleepy or bored, you may move for a five-to-ten-minute break to stretch up for all of us and I would be glad to grant your motion.

(11) You must not take notes or draw pictures, diagrams or other memoranda to remind you of the facts, and you must rely entirely upon your memory. The purpose of this rule is to avoid over-emphasizing some facts and de-emphasizing others. You should not worry in forgetting what you have heard from the witness because you will eventually recall their statements once you go into the deliberation room as you embark in discussing the various events as narrated by the witnesses.

(12) You must not pay attention to news accounts of the trial, whether they be on radio or television or in the newspaper or in the Internet or other publications. You must not comment on anything you have seen on television or heard over the radio or from any person about this case. You must not purposely watch on television or hear over the radio any news about this case. You must not search the Internet for evidence or news reports about this case. Sometime later, you will learn more what is an evidence and what is not.

(13) [Omit in civil cases] You are not allowed to inspect the scene of the crime which is the subject of the trial. This is important because the place where the incident occurred may be entirely changed from what it was at the time of the occurrence.

(14) In some rare cases you may be kept away from your home continuously during the trial. You may be allowed to go home at night, but you cannot discuss the case with anyone, and again, not even with a member of your family.

(15) You must not make or express your opinion or decision and you must remain neutral about the case while this trial is still in progress. It is only in your assigned deliberation room will you be able to talk about this case independently among yourselves absolutely without interference or presence on my part or of any other person. In your deliberation, get more reminders for information from your fellow jurors instead of imposing your will on them. If they ask your opinion, inform them with all honesty and, again, do not impose your will on them. The first and the last time you make your decision is when you secretly write your vote in your ballot.

(16) You must remove from your minds or vocabulary any law you have learned or heard about in school or from anywhere in the past. You must not discuss among your fellow jurors about those laws. You must not read a law book or news story about the case at hand. You must not consult a dictionary or encyclopedia. If you have previously served as a juror, whether as a member of a grand jury or trial jury, you must not mention or remember any law or legal instruction you have learned in such prior jury duty during your deliberation to arrive at your verdict regardless of whether such law or legal instruction is similar or identical in the present case. Your prior education in law, officially or unofficially, is not a requirement in order for you to sit as a juror in the present case. The only law or laws you shall keep in your minds is, or are, the laws I instruct you to use some time in the course of this trial. You must submit through the bailiff a written note to me to ask for the definition of a word and I will make a proper response to you with the agreement of the counsels of both parties to this case.

(17) During our court recess, or at any time, you must not talk to me, your presiding judge. Make sure you come back to this room without a minute of being late. You must all be in the door and be ready to get in when told to come in.

(18) You must not enter the deliberation room until I order you to do so. I will give you the proper instruction at a proper time after we are done with certain court procedures;

(19) You are absolutely prohibited from asking money or favor of any kind or in accepting a bribe from any body on account of your having been called to serve as a juror in this case currently or in the future on account of the information you had discussed during your deliberation about this case;

(20) You must not consider any other evidence except those presented at the trial in this court room. In other words, you must not give evidentiary value on anything you have seen or heard from any source or person outside this court room about this case.

(21) When you have been ordered to gather in your deliberation room at the proper time, you must not allow anyone - not even me, your presiding judge - to enter your deliberation room. Your deliberation room is your exclusive territory and domain. At any moment, while you are deliberating, I may knock at your door. In that event, you must politely decline to speak with me or with anyone else for that matter otherwise I will declare you in violation of this instruction.

(22) When you need a clarification on any matter that prevents you to proceed with your deliberation or judgment, you must submit a hand written note through the bailiff or sheriff in this court to me, your presiding judge, and write what you may ask. I will accordingly make a ruling or response to your query in consultation or conference with the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney in this case.

(23) I cannot order you which way you will decide this matter but I have the summary authority to order the Bailiff in uniform at this court room to send to jail for contempt of court any juror who violates the legal instructions that I have just read and issued to you.

(24) The evidence presented at the trial may consist of documents, things, or objects and testimony of the witnesses. If a question is objected to and sustained or upheld, you must disregard any answer to such question as if it has not been stated. The opening and closing statements, and the arguments of the lawyers do not constitute as evidence because they are not witnesses. The statements by the respective lawyers in these court room merely reflect their personal opinion and you must not consider their opinions as evidence. You will be reminded again about what I have instructed you now as we go on further during our court sessions.

(25) You must consider the accused your co-equal or a common person. You must not give any special importance or significance to the fact that [the accused] [any party] may be, or is claiming to be, a person with great fame, or title of nobility, or for being a datu, bai, sultan or sultana, or wealth, or high rank or title or position or power in any government or government instrumentality in our society or a relative or close friend of such person. While being seated as a juror in this matter, your authority to decide justice in this case is more superior than any person or public official in our society. Keep this in mind at all times until you finally decide this case.

(26) You shall not take into evidence any description of the accused or of a witness in reference to his being a Christian, a Muslim, or with any religious affiliation, or creed, or ethnicity, or tribal feature, or regional lingual accent, in the course of this trial or during your jury discussion.

(27) [Omit in civil cases] While the trial is still in progress, you must presume that the accused is innocent. During this entire trial, it is the right of the accused to remain silent and he may choose not to testify. Therefore, you must not presume or you must not guess that he is guilty by the mere fact that he did not testify or he has remained silent in this trial. Our constitution forbids to force the accused to testify against him/herself. You may hear this instruction on “presumption of innocence” of the accused several times in the course of the trial for the protection of his/her constitutional right of innocence.

(28) [Omit in civil cases] In your verdict, you shall not declare the accused guilty as charged unless you have found proof or evidence beyond reasonable doubt of the alleged unlawful act of the accused. This means that you declare the accused guilty only if you cannot find in the evidence a believable reason that the accused could not have committed the offense charged against him. You will again be reminded of this instruction, from time to time, as we proceed with this trial.

(29) In making your collective judgment, called the “verdict”, you must not force upon any of your fellow jurors to vote against his or her conscience. You must write your vote secretly and your ballot folded when submitting for counting. No ballot shall be opened or read until all twelve ballots are gathered. Upon submission of all 12 ballots, all “guilty” votes shall be sorted together and the “not guilty” votes shall likewise be sorted together and separated from the guilty votes.

Thereafter, if you find the accused guilty with 7 “Guilty” votes or more, you must promptly record the number of “Guilty” votes in the prescribed “Guilty Verdict Form” as provided to you. You must not submit to this Court the “Not Guilty Verdict” Form.

Conversely, if you find the accused with 6 “Not Guilty” votes or more, instead, you must promptly record the number of “Not Guilty” votes in the prescribed “Not Guilty Verdict Form”. You must not submit to this Court the “Guilty Verdict” Form.

The verdict sheet shall be signed by your foreman and attested with the signature by the ballot reader.

[Note: The presiding judge shall re-issue this instruction upon submitting the case to the jury for its deliberation and decision.]

(30) [Omit in civil cases] In the course of this proceedings, I will further issue other instructions as their need may arise. I will also instruct you on the definition of the criminal offense that the accused is charged with. In the mean time, you must not speculate or try to guess as to the definition of the alleged criminal offense.

(31) If you received any solicitation or request from any person, or any lawyer, or public official, job supervisor, or co-employee, with the purpose of influencing your decision, regardless of whether you were influenced or not by such solicitation or request, you have the mandatory duty and obligation to secretly report in writing within thirty (30) days from the date you received such solicitation or request to a grand jury for investigation. You shall be liable for the crime of obstruction of justice and indictment by a grand jury if you ignore or fail to comply with this duty or obligation.”

(32) Any statement given by your fellow juror whether favoring a guilty or not guilty verdict, during your discussion, you must take such statement as his or her opinion only and shall not necessarily bind you in making your personal actual and final secret vote in your jury ballot.

If you find in good faith and in your conscience that the accused cannot be convicted under the law that I have instructed to you for application in this case because you think that the law itself is unconstitutional, or unfair, or by the weakness of the evidence you have seen or heard during the trial, you must give the benefit of your doubt to the accused by granting him your vote of “Not Guilty”.

(33) By virtue of the sovereign power of the people in Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, as conferred upon you as a jury and direct representative of the sovereign people, you will not be held liable, civilly or criminally, individually or as a jury, in writing your vote in good faith and without malice in your jury ballot to reach your verdict to find the accused either guilty or not guilty.

(34) You are now the exclusive judges of this case. Ask not anyone else, not even your fellow jurors, once you have arrived at your personal decision, which way you will decide.

(a) Each of you must vote and none of you shall abstain from voting. If you will refuse to vote either way, "guilty" or "not guilty" you will be charged with the crime of obstruction of justice.

(b) If anyone of you shall abstain from voting, your foreman or forelady shall call the sheriff or bailiff who is waiting at the door outside of your deliberation room at all times and ask him to inform me, your presiding judge, about your refusal to vote. If such is the case, you must not yet tell me how many have voted for guilty or not guilty. You must keep that information secretly among yourselves only until 12 jury votes are accounted for and you have already accomplished your jury verdict form.

(35) In your discussion, you may speak the local dialect that all of you understand and speak. If you feel necessary to speak in Tagalog, you may do so to emphasize your point. What is important is that you must understand each other very well." End of Jury Instruction.

Then, there is nothing more for the Presiding Judge to worry about. In just 3 to 5 days, the verdict can already come up but he does not have to worry writing his decision. He could care less in either way the jury decides.

The Presiding Judge cannot be faulted that his compadre who recommended him to his bench will be convicted by the jury, if it happens that his corrupt compadre was the subject of the jury trial. If the President who appointed him called the Presiding Judge to go easy on his compadre before the trial began, the Presiding Judge can not be blamed for not being able to acquit his compadre because he had no power to decide the case before his sala.

On the other hand, if the compadre was acquitted, the Presiding judge cannot be faulted by the people because he did not decide the trial.

It would be unwise, to say the least, if Philippine Judges would oppose the jury adoption. If the convicted offender is a vindictive person, it would be hard to believe that the ire of a convicted felon would be vented on the judge because, again, it was not the Presiding Judge that decided the case against him. It is the people who pronounced him guilty.

I think the incidents of presiding judges being killed for doing their job properly will greatly diminish upon the adoption of the trial by jury.

What about the jurors? Will not their lives be put in danger for serving?

Well, it depends on how a juror behaves. There are safeguards in the Jury Instruction he needs to follow to prevent him from putting himself in harms way.

If a juror is showy after the case is decided, trying to show off that he is a hero juror, then may be he can become a dead hero for being boisterous. If I were the juror, I would rather "KISS" ("Keep It Simply Secret").

Just be a simple man and and not be showy to avoid catching attention by an aggrieved party. It's better to be a living unsung hero than a popular dead hero, I think!

Some opponents to the jury adoption argue that reading and issuing of the lengthy jury instruction to the jury is a waste of time because so much time is unnecessarily consumed in commencing the trial. Such time could have been used to speed up the trial.

I believe the participation of the people in a trial proceedings through the jury is an investment both of time and in money. I think, it would be difficult to quantify the monetary value of the benefits that will be gained for having the jury system put in place such as, among others, shortening the period of time in trying a case, easing the backlog of cases, securing the unity of the people, greater freedom and liberty, less government corruption, more effective rule of law, greater efficiency in the government, gaining legal and good citizenship education through jury instruction they hear from presiding judges instead of hearing illegal instruction from outlaws to indoctrinate them to overthrow a corrupt government, etc.

Normally, the issuance and reading of the basic jury instruction at least may take 4 to 6 hours or 8 hours. Granting that it will take the whole day, 8 hours, the time spent in issuing jury instruction, it can save the time of judges in writing their decisions. In most cases, writing a decision can even take a longer time compared with using the same time in giving instruction. It will also save the needed time to do some legal research before he can write to make his decision.

With jury adoption, I believe strongly that it would be unheard of to wait 5 to 10 years for a jury to decide a case, the current period of time in our present justice system we wait to read the written decision of presiding judges. Today, many cases are not decided at all because some presiding judges simply "kicked the bucket" prematurely due to old age, stroke or heart attack arising from the pressure of trying to catch up with their so-called "deadlines" and they end up dead instead.

(Like a Mistress)

In most cases in the system of trial by jury, the trial can take 2 weeks long and the jury verdict (judgment) can come out in 3 to 5 days after the case is submitted to the jury for deliberation and decision.

One thing for sure, no solo trial judge can ever achieve trying a case every day and makes his decision every day on a regular basis. If he does that, he would drop dead before his time has come, God forbid!

But I think, for sure also, a Presiding Judge can sit as such before a jury every day, leave the court at 4 and play golf at 5 without stressing himself and have a good night sleep each time he goes to bed 365 nights a year. And he doesn't have to think which way a case is decided. Right or wrong, no one can blame him for the jury's decision.

Some Opponents of the system of trial by jury further fail to realize that the administration of justice requires a "division of labor" in dealing with certain elements in the administration of justice to prevent injustice (further discussed below).

The Elements in the
Administration of Justice

Administration of justice involves certain elements, namely: the Law, Evidence, Procedures, Instructions or Rules, Finances and Deciding Power (or trophy power) and there are two competing groups of society that are vying to exclusively possess them all for their own personal interest. They are: The Minority Group and the other is the Majority Group.

To prevent the Minority group from defrauding the Majority group and vice versa, it is imperative that the elements of justice shall be fairly allocated between them to keep and check each others greed of exclusively possessing all these elements.

Competing Groups Over the Wealth
of Society in a Democracy

By the nature of the Philippine democracy, its people are divided into the Majority Group and the other is the Minority Group. The people in the private sector belongs to the Majority Group because they composed the greatest majority of the Filipino people. The people in the government sector is the Minority Group because their total number is much lesser than the people in the private sector.

Essentially, the Majority Group is commonly described as the "PUBLIC" whereas the Minority Group has been collectively known as the "REPUBLIC" which, in fact, is only a smaller portion, or fraction, of the PUBLIC. Hence the term "REPUBLIC" has been officially known collectively as the REPUBLIC of the Philippines which actually means "SERVANTS OF THE PHILIPPINES."

The members of the Republic, aka "public officials", have made us, the common people, the PUBLIC, believe that they, the people composing the REPUBLIC, are more powerful than we are in the private sector. As a consequence, the "Republic" have been "owning" exclusively but unconstitutionally all these years the entire elements of justice including that most important element, the "DECIDING POWER" of justice like a trophy.

The above exclusivity of the ownership of the DECIDING ELEMENT of justice in the hands of the REPUBLIC, I think, is a flagrant violation over the constitutional principle of the MAJORITY RULE and against the concept of what Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution stated that: "The Philippines shall be a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them."

Restated in another way, the PUBLIC is the master, whereas the people composing the REPUBLIC are the servants of the people.

It is proper for the REPUBLIC only to possess, or keep custody, of the other elements of justice, namely: the Law, Evidence, Procedures, Instructions or Rules,and Finances, because the PUBLIC is paying, by way of the taxes of the common people, to the members of the REPUBLIC to gain and learn the needed expertise to become proficient in serving the PUBLIC.

One of those expertise that the members of the REPUBLIC, called Judges or Justices, must do and to serve the PUBLIC properly is to educate us, the people, about justice and to decide in justice. The process of educating us, the people, is by guiding us with what is known as "JURY INSTRUCTION" which you may have already read above. It is therefore necessary that in order to prevent the minority, the REPUBLIC, from fooling us, the PUBLIC, it is imperative that the elements in the administration of justice be allocated as follows:

To the Majority, the element of the Deciding Power in justice must be vested in it because it is the logical title holder of the sovereign majority rule in the Philippine democratic society pursuant to Article II, Section 1, of the Philippine Constitution. This allocation is befitting of the status of the Majority because its members are the Masters over the Minority.

To the Minority, only the elements of Law, Evidence, Procedures, Instructions or Rules and Finances shall be vested in it because it is the proper expert custodian of these elements, whose members are the Servants of the Majority.

In order to vest the elements of justice in their proper perspective, we must, of necessity, create the Jury Systems Law, so that neither the PUBLIC nor the REPUBLIC can fool each other.

To view the court lay out and jury seating arrangement during a jury trial, please click the LINK below:

Jury Seating Arrangement

QUESTION: With so many postponements that characterize trials in Philippine Courts, how will the Jury Trial system speed up in disposing cases in court?

ANSWER: Rules on postponements are very strict. You will find those rules in the LINK below. A presiding judge, or a prosecutor, or defense attorney, could lose his license who abuses or disregards the postponement rules upon indictment by a Grand Jury on the complaint by any party or witness to the case or by any person through the media. Please read VERY VERY CAREFULLY those rules, if you really really love your position or your license to practice your profession:

Calendar Setting & Postponement Jury Rules