On Wednesday, September 3, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court announced the release of new Model Criminal Jury Instructions. The Colorado Supreme Court Model Criminal Jury Instructions Committee has been working to develop the new model instructions since its official creation in October 2011, and intends to keep the instructions up-to-date by issuing periodic supplements or new editions. Interim updates will be published on a new website called the “Reporter’s Online Update.”
The Model Criminal Jury Instructions are meant to be guidelines and are not mandatory. Individual cases may require additional instructions, or none of the model instructions may apply. A precise format for criminal jury instructions has never been mandated in Colorado, and the committee endeavored to accurately state the law in the instructions while using neutral language in order to maximize the instructions’ utility.
The Committee also created a helpful Desk Guide, which contains the Chief Justice’s order approving the model jury instructions, a hyperlinked list of chapters, and comments on the use of each chapter in the instructions.