Supreme Court Approves Paraphrasing of Standard Jury Instruction during Voir Dire

July 23, 2007

During jury selection in a first degree murder case, the prosecutor paraphrased the standard jury instruction on premeditation, and made certain statements regarding the presumption of innocence. The Supreme Court held it was not error to do so because the prosecutor’s comments were “largely identical to the standard jury instruction,” and, at the conclusion of the case, the jury was correctly instructed on both the presumption of innocence and premeditation. Belcher v. State, 961 So. 2d 239 (Fla 2007). See also, Ramirez v. State, 901 So2d 332 (Fla 3rd DCA 2005) in which the 3rd DCA elaborated on counsel’s right to ask prospective jurors about “the law” and their ability to follow the law.