Judge Edward Haggerty charges the jury in the trial of Clay Shaw





1426 (30)

February 28, 1969


THE COURT: Gentlemen of the Jury, I am not going to take a recess. Just remain seated in your jury box. I have promised to give copies to the press. If the gentlemen will come to my chambers, I will give them copies.

Please check, Mr. Sheriff, to see if there is anybody outside. I don't want them coming in or out when I am reading the charge. I want to know if they have locked the front door.

THE BAILIFF: It is now locked, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right. Take this down. I have been requested, before the case started, by the Defense to give a written charge. I am complying with the law by giving a written charge. I have also, before I am reading this charge, given a copy to the District Attorney and to the Defense, which is required by law.

Let everybody have a seat, Sheriff. That is just what I am talking about.

THE BAILIFF: Nobody is going to interrupt, Judge.

THE COURT: General Charge -- Jury Instructions. It becomes my duty as judge to instruct you concerning the law applicable to this case, and it is your duty as jurors to follow the law as I shall state it to you. The function of the jury is to try the issues of fact that are presented by the allegations in the indictment filed in this court and the defendant's plea of "not guilty." This duty you should perform uninfluenced by pity for a defendant or by passion or prejudice against him. You must not suffer yourselves to be biased against a defendant because of the fact that he has been arrested for this offense, or because an indictment has been filed against him, or because he has been brought before the court to stand trial. None of these facts is evidence of his guilt, and you are not permitted to infer or to speculate from any or all of them that he is more likely to be guilty than innocent. Gentlemen, you are to be governed solely by the evidence introduced in this trial and the law as stated to you by me. The law forbids you to be governed by mere sentiment, conjecture, sympathy, passion, prejudice, public opinion or public feeling. Both the State and the Defendant have a right to demand, and they do demand and expect, that you will conscientiously and dispassionately consider and weigh the evidence and apply the law of the case, and that you will reach a just verdict, regardless of what the consequences of such verdict may be. That verdict must express the individual opinion of each juror.

Gentlemen, you are the exclusive judges of the facts and of the effect and value of the evidence, but you must determine the facts from the evidence produced here in court. If any evidence was admitted and afterwards was ordered by me to be stricken out, you must disregard entirely the matter thus stricken, and if any counsel intimated by any of his questions that certain hinted facts were, or were not, true, you must disregard any such intimation, and must not draw any inference from it. As to any statement made by counsel in your presence concerning the facts in the case, you must not regard such a statement as evidence; provided, however, that if counsel for both parties have stipulated to any fact, you are to regard that fact as being conclusively proved; and if, in the trial, either party has admitted a fact to be true, such admission may be considered by you as evidence in the case.

The State and the Defendant are both entitled to the individual opinion of each juror. It is the duty of each of you, after considering all the evidence in this case, to determine, if possible, the question of the guilt or innocence of the Defendant. When you have reached a conclusion in that respect, you should not change it merely because one or more or all of your fellow jurors may have come to a different conclusion, or merely to bring about a unanimous verdict. However, each juror should freely and fairly discuss with his fellow jurors the evidence and the deductions to be drawn therefrom. If, after doing so, any juror should be satisfied that a conclusion first reached by him was wrong, he unhesitatingly should abandon that original opinion and render his verdict according to his final decision.

The attitude and conduct of jurors at the outset of their deliberations are a matter of considerable importance. It is rarely productive of good for a juror, upon entering the jury room, to make an emphatic expression of his opinion on the case or to announce a determination to stand for a certain verdict. When one does that at the outset, his sense of pride may be aroused, and he may hesitate to recede from an announced position if shown that it is fallacious. Remember that you are not partisans or advocates, but rather judges. The final test of the quality of your service will lie in the verdict which you return to this court, not in the opinions any of you may hold as you retire. Have in mind that you will make a definite contribution to efficient judicial administration if you arrive at a just and proper verdict in this case. To that end, the court reminds you that in your deliberations in the jury room there can be no triumph excepting the ascertainment and declaration of truth.

If in these instructions any rule, direction or idea be stated in varying ways, no emphasis thereon is intended by me, and none must be inferred by you. For that reason, you are not to single out any certain sentence, or any individual point or instruction, and ignore the others, but you are to consider all the instructions as a whole, and are to regard each in the light of all the others. The order in which the instructions are given to you has no significance as to their relative importance. At times throughout the trial the court has been called upon to pass on the question whether or not certain offered evidence might properly be admitted. You are not to be concerned with the reasons for such rulings and are not to draw any inferences from them. Whether offered evidence is admissible is purely a question of law. In admitting evidence to which an objection is made, the court does not determine what weight should be given such evidence; nor does it pass on the credibility of the witness. As to any offer of evidence that has been rejected by the court, you, of course, must not consider the same; as to any question to which an objection was sustained, you must not conjecture as to what the answer might have been or as to any reason for the objection. The court has endeavored to give you instructions embodying all rules of law that may become necessary in guiding you to a just and lawful verdict. The applicability of some of these instructions will depend upon the conclusions you reach as to what the facts are. As to any such instruction, the fact that it has been given must not be taken as indicating an opinion of the court that the instruction will be necessary or as to what the facts are. If an instruction applies only to a state of facts which you find does not exist, you will disregard the instructions. In arriving at a verdict in this case, you should not discuss or consider the subject of penalty or punishment, as that is a matter which lies with the court.

I am striking the rest of that paragraph out.

Gentlemen, the Defendant at the bar is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The consequences of this rule of law is that he is not required to prove his innocence, but may rest upon the presumption in his favor until it is overthrown by positive affirmative proof. The onus, therefore, is on the State to prove to your satisfaction, and beyond a reasonable doubt, the guilt of the accused as to the crime charged in the Indictment.

If you entertain any reasonable doubt as to any fact or element necessary to constitute the Defendant's guilt, it is your sworn duty to give him the benefit of that doubt and return a verdict of acquittal. Even where the evidence demonstrates a probability of guilt, yet if it does not establish it beyond a reasonable doubt, you must acquit the accused. This doubt must be a reasonable one, that is, founded upon a real, tangible, substantial basis, and not upon mere caprice, fancy or conjecture. It must be such a doubt as would give rise to a grave uncertainty, raised in your minds by reason of the unsatisfactory character of the evidence; one that would make you feel that you had not an abiding conviction to a moral certainty of the Defendant's guilt. If, after giving a fair and impartial consideration to all of the facts in the case, you find the evidence unsatisfactory upon any single point indispensably necessary to constitute the Defendant's guilt, this would give rise to such a reasonable doubt as would justify you in rendering a verdict of not guilty.

The prosecution must establish guilt by legal and sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but the rule does not go further and require a preponderance of testimony. It is incumbent upon the State to prove the offense charged, or legally included in the indictment, to your satisfaction, and beyond a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt. It should be an actual or substantial doubt. It is such a doubt as a reasonable man would seriously entertain. It is a serious doubt, for which you could give good reason.

The indictment is this case is a mere accusation or charge against the Defendant, and it is not evidence of the Defendant's guilt, and the fact that such an indictment has been found is of no weight, and does not carry any presumption of guilt, and you must not be influenced by it in considering the case. It has no more probative value than a bill of information filed by the District Attorney or an affidavit made by an individual.

Gentlemen of the Jury, you are prohibited by law and your oath from going beyond the evidence to seek for doubts upon which to acquit or convict the Defendant, but must confine yourselves strictly to a dispassionate consideration of the testimony given upon the trial. You must not resort to extraneous facts or circumstances in reaching your verdict. That is, you must not go beyond the evidence to find facts or circumstances creating doubts, but must restrict yourselves to the evidence that you have heard on the trial of this case.

You are the exclusive judges of the facts. You are to find from the evidence which facts have been proved and which facts have not been proved. For this purpose, you determine the credibility of the witnesses, accordingly as you are impressed with their veracity. You may take into account their demeanor, their manner on the stand, the probability or improbability of their statements, the interest or want of interest they may have in the case, and every circumstance surrounding the giving of their testimony which may aid you in weighing their statements.

If you believe that any witness in the case, either for the State or the Defense, has willfully and deliberately testified falsely to any material fact, then I charge you that you are justified in disregarding the entire testimony of such witness as proving nothing and as unworthy of belief. You have the right to accept as true, or reject as false, the testimony of any witness accordingly as you are impressed with his or her veracity.

You are also judges of the law, but in a different sense. You receive the evidence from the witnesses; you receive the law from the Court, and it is your duty to accept the law and to apply it as given to you.

The Defendant is permitted by law to testify in his own behalf. If he exercises his privilege, he is governed by the same rules, in testing his credibility and the correctness of his statements, as every other witness. You have the right to believe or disbelieve him, just as he impresses you as to the truth or falsity of his testimony. When he does not avail himself of this privilege, you should not consider this fact, or permit it to raise a presumption of guilt against him, and you should consider in determining his guilt or innocence, only those facts testified to and brought out on the trial of this case.

The Defendant is entitled to the individual opinion of each juror, but any juror may change his opinion as the result of reasonable persuasion by his fellow jurors. The law requires and obliges the District Attorney, representing the State of Louisiana, to make an opening statement explaining the nature of the charge and the evidency by which he expects to prove the same. The law leaves to the counsel for the Defendant the option of explaining their defense and the evidence by which he expects to establish the same or of waiving his right to make an opening statement.

The function and purpose of an opening statement by the District Attorney is simply to explain the nature of the charge and the evidence by which he expects to establish the same; the opening statement by counsel for the Defendant is to explain the theory of the Defense and the evidence by which he expects to prove same. Whether an opening statement is made by the District Attorney or Counsel for the Defendant, you are not to consider the opening statement as proving anything at all in the case. You are to consider only the evidence in the case and the testimony of sworn witnesses who have appeared before you on the witness stand.

Should either the District Attorney or the Counsel for the Defendant make statement in an opening statement and fail to substantiate them by the testimony of sworn witnesses on the statements made by them, but on the contrary, you should disregard the same as if never having been uttered.

In law there are two methods by which facts can be established; by direct evidence and by circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is the evidence of material facts relating directly, and without inference, to the questions at issue, or the facts to be proved. Circumstantial evidence is the evidence of material facts which may be inferred from the existence of other material facts relating to the questions at issue, or the facts to be proved. Circumstantial evidence is legal and competent and must be considered by the jury together with the direct evidence, if any, which may have been adduced at the trial.

The jury should draw inferences only from the facts which have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. When the evidence in a case consists of both direct and circumstantial evidence, you must not convict unless you are satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt of the Defendant's guilt.

When the evidence in a case consists exclusively of circumstantial evidence, the rule is that, assuming every fact to be proved that the evidence tends to prove, in order to convict it must exclude every reasonable hypothesis or theory of innocence.

Every expert witness must state the facts upon which his opinion is based. The test of the competency of an expert is his knowledge of the subject about which he is called upon to express an opinion, and before any witness can give evidence as an expert, his competency so to testify must have been established to the satisfaction of the court. Experts are persons who are learned in a particular science, and they are permitted to express their opinion upon scientific matters at issue, but such experts are not called into court for the purpose of deciding the case. You, the jurors, are the ones who, in law, must bear the responsibility of deciding the case. The experts are merely witnesses, and you have the right to either accept or reject their testimony and opinions in the same manner and for the same reason for which you may accept or reject the testimony of other witnesses in the case.

There are certain legal presumptions in law, and these are covered in R.S. 15:432. "R.S. 15:432. Effect of legal presumptions; rebutting evidence; illustrations.

"A legal presumption relieves him in whose favor it exists from the necessity of any proof; but may nonetheless be destroyed by rebutting evidence; such is the presumption attaching to the regularity of judicial proceedings; that the grand jury was legally constituted; that public officers have done their duty; that a relation or subject matter once established, continues, but not that it pre-existed; that the defendant intended the natural and probably consequences of his act; that the defendant is innocent; that the defendant is sane and responsible for his actions; that the person in the unexplained possession of property recently stolen is the thief; that evidence under the control of a party and not produced by him was not produced because it would not have aided him; that the witnesses have told the truth."

"R.S. 14:26 -- Criminal Conspiracy.

"Criminal conspiracy is the agreement or combination of two or more persons for the specific purpose of committing any crime; provided that an agreement or combination to commit a crime shall not amount to a criminal conspiracy unless, in addition to such agreement or combination, one or more of such parties does an act in furtherance of the object of the agreement or combination.

"Where the intended basic crime has been consummated the conspirators may be tried for either the conspiracy or the completed offense, and a conviction for one shall not bar a prosecution for the other.

"Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment, shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than one nor more than twenty years.

"Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit the crimes of theft or receiving stolen things shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

"Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit any other crime shall be fined or imprisoned, or both, in the same manner as for the offense contemplated by the conspirators; but such fine or imprisonment shall not exceed one-half of the largest fine, or one-half the longest term of imprisonment prescribed by such offense, or both."


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