Rule 19. Instructions.
(a) After the jury is sworn and before opening statements, the court may instruct the jury concerning the jurors' duties and conduct, the order of proceedings, the elements and burden of proof for the alleged crime, and the definition of terms. The court may instruct the jury concerning any matter stipulated to by the parties and agreed to by the court and any matter the court in its discretion believes will assist the jurors in comprehending the case. Preliminary instructions shall be in writing and a copy provided to each juror. At the final pretrial conference or at such other time as the court directs, a party may file a written request that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the request. The court shall inform the parties of its action upon a requested instruction prior to instructing the jury, and it shall furnish the parties with a copy of its proposed instructions, unless the parties waive this requirement.
(b) During the course of the trial, the court may instruct the jury on the law if the instruction will assist the jurors in comprehending the case. Prior to giving the written instruction, the court shall advise the parties of its intent to do so and of the content of the instruction. A party may request an interim written instruction.
(c) At the close of the evidence or at such earlier time as the court reasonably directs, any party may file written request that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the request. At the same time copies of such requests shall be furnished to the other parties. The court shall inform counsel of its proposed action upon the request; and it shall furnish counsel with a copy of its proposed instructions, unless the parties waive this requirement. Final instructions shall be in writing and at least one copy provided to the jury. The court shall provide a copy to any juror who requests one and may, in its discretion, provide a copy to all jurors.
(d) Upon each written request so presented and given, or refused, the court shall endorse its decision and shall initial or sign it. If part be given and part refused, the court shall distinguish, showing by the endorsement what part of the charge was given and what part was refused.
(e) Objections to written instructions shall be made before the instructions are given to the jury. Objections to oral instructions may be made after they are given to the jury, but before the jury retires to consider its verdict. The court shall provide an opportunity to make objections outside the hearing of the jury. Unless a party objects to an instruction or the failure to give an instruction, the instruction may not be assigned as error except to avoid a manifest injustice. In stating the objection the party shall identify the matter to which the objection is made and the ground of the objection.
(f) The court shall not comment on the evidence in the case, and if the court refers to any of the evidence, it shall instruct the jury that they are the exclusive judges of all questions of fact.
(g) Arguments of the respective parties shall be made after the court has given the jury its final instructions. Unless otherwise provided by law, any limitation upon time for argument shall be within the discretion of the court.
Effective November 1, 2001