Illinois pattern jury instructions, for civil and criminal cases, can now be accessed on the Illinois Supreme Court website at www.state.il.us/court.
Until recently, complete instructions were available in inbound volumes and supplemental inserts through a paid subscription or a law library, according to a press release issued today from the Court.
"This is a very welcome step forward as we move in Illinois to integrate our court systems and processes with the latest technology," said Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride.
With the publication of the pattern jury instructions for civil and criminal cases, the Supreme Court required their use in all trials, providing uniformity in the elements to be proved at trial. Pattern jury instructions outline the elements of what needs to be proved in a case, and they provide jurors a road map to determine liability or guilt.
Before their use in Illinois, one study found that 38 percent of all reversals were caused in whole or part by errors in jury instructions.
"When the IPI Jury Instruction books first came out 50 years ago, that was hailed as one of the best things that ever happened for the trial practitioner," said Michael J. Warner, a Rock Island attorney.
"This will greatly help judges, lawyers and law students in Illinois," said Bruce Pfaff, chair of the Supreme Court Special E-Business Committee. "For the first time in Illinois, everyone will have access for no charge to the approved jury instructions for civil and criminal cases.