A new website, Trialdex, is a comprehensive resource for finding and comparing federal and state jury instructions.
Formally launched yesterday, the site provides a searchable collection all official or quasi-official federal civil and criminal instructions and annotations, as well as an index of 20,000 legal terms, statutes, CFRs and Supreme Court cases referenced in jury instructions.
The index includes every reference in a federal instruction or annotation to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, a U.S. Code statute, a C.F.R. provision, and a federal rule.
The site does not index state instructions, but provides links to all state instructions that are posted online and uses a Google search integration to enable full-text search of all state instructions.
The site also offers a selection of “Trialdex tools,” which are flowcharts and Q&As that help a user analyze causes of action and other complex legal problems.
For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act tool defines the elements of and common defenses to an ADA action. The police interrogations tool identifies constitutional and statutory issues that affect the admissibility of a defendant’s out-of-court statements.
The site is the creation of Ed Hagen, who was an assistant director at the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Education from 1995 until his retirement in 2018. A former state prosecutor and adjunct law professor, he is the co-author of Law of Confessions (Thomson Reuters) and The Prosecution Function (Lexington Books).
“I have always felt that jury instructions and their annotations are a critical part of trial preparation or any legal research project, and Trialdex provides a number of unique tools that make finding and comparing instructions easy to do,” Hagen told me in an email.
Nowhere else offers a collection of federal and state pattern jury instructions that is as up-to-date or exhaustive, he said. He will update the site every week and detail updates on the site’s blog. Users can sign up to be notified by email of changes to jury instructions.