An appellate panel has used an unsigned opinion to admonish trial judges not to stray from the standard jury instructions on “reasonable doubt” in criminal cases, even if a jury asks for a jargon-free definition.

Justice David B. Saxe of the Appellate Division, First Department, wrote a concurring opinion to say that while jurors may be confused by the wording of the standard instruction, the system requires that deliberations in criminal trials be governed by a single standard instruction in all cases.

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