Jury Instructions Now Available

The Illinois Supreme Court just announced that the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions will now be freely available on the Court’s website. According

to the Court’s Press Release of December 8, 2011, (opens as a PDF):

Effective immediately, Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, for both civil and criminal cases, will be available on the website of the Supreme Court at www.state.il.us/court. Previously, the complete instructions were available only in bulky, bound volumes and supplemental inserts through a paid subscription or through a law library.

A new letter of agreement, between the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts and Thomson Reuters, who publishes the volumes under the West Group name, made the change possible. Thomson Reuters retains an exclusive license for publication for commercial purposes.

Juror Card PictureThis is something that should have been long ago. I have no problem with West, or any other publisher for that matter, making money by selling the jury instructions in whatever form that they wish. However, these are the instructions that attorneys are supposed to use in jury trials. As such, they should be as freely available as the statutes and case law. If a publisher can convince people to pay money for their added benefits, that is great. However, attorneys should not be forced to pay money to West to get access to basic law.

I applaud the Supreme Court for the steps it has been taking recently. It has opened our citation system, made our jury instructions available, and appointed a committed to study the implementation of e-filing. All of these represent great steps forward in making our court system more efficient and effective to use.

The Court’s website hosts both the civil instructions as well as the criminal instructions.

Photo used by permission Michelle Milano/shutterstock.com