In State v. O’Brien, 200 N.J. 520, 524 (2009), the New Jersey Supreme Court asked both the Civil Practice and Criminal Practice Committees to consider developing standards to guide judges in exercising their discretion to provide written instructions to the jury. The Criminal Practice Committee in the 2012 rules cycle recommended revisions to Rules 1:8-7 and 1:8-8 to require that written jury charges be provided to the jury in all criminal cases, unless the preparation of the instructions would cause an undue delay in the trial. The Practice Committee also recommended that when written jury charges are distributed for the jury’s consideration during deliberations, the entire final charge should be provided. Additionally, the Committee recommended that if a party makes a request to charge, the requesting party may be required to provide specific language, in writing, in a format suitable for ready preparation and submission to the jury, at a time fixed by the trial judge.
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