Ariz. R. Civ. P. 51

As amended through May 21, 2021
Rule 51 - Jury Instructions; Objections; Preserving a Claim of Error
(a) Requests
(1)Before or at the Close of the Evidence. Before trial and, as the court permits, during trial, a party may file written requests for the jury instructions it wants the court to give.
(2)After the Close of the Evidence. After the close of the evidence, a party may:
(A) file requests for instructions on issues that could not reasonably have been anticipated by any earlier filing deadline ordered by the court; and
(B) with the court's permission, file untimely requests for instructions on any issue.
(b) Instructions.
(1)Generally. Jury instructions should be as readily understandable as possible by individuals unfamiliar with the legal system. Each juror must be provided with a copy of the court's preliminary and final instructions on the law before they are read to the jury and before the jury retires to deliberate.
(2)Preliminary Instructions. After the jury is sworn, the court should instruct the jury on:
(A) its duties and conduct;
(B) the order of proceedings;
(C) the procedure for submitting written questions to witnesses or to the court;
(D) the procedure for note-taking;
(E) the nature of the evidence and its evaluation;
(F) any issues to be addressed;
(G) the legal principles that will govern the trial; and
(H) the procedures to be followed if the jury experiences any problem or difficulty during trial.
(3)Final Instructions. The court:
(A) may give an instruction as proposed, refuse to give the instruction, or modify the instruction, indicating on the record the modifications made;
(B) must inform the parties of its proposed instructions and proposed action on the requests before instructing the jury and before final jury arguments;
(C) must give the parties an opportunity to object on the record and out of the jury's hearing before the instructions and arguments are delivered;
(D) may instruct the jury at any time before the jury is discharged; and
(E) must make a record of its rulings.
(c) Objections.
(1)How to Make. A party who objects to an instruction or the failure to give an instruction must do so on the record, stating distinctly the matter objected to and the grounds for the objection.
(2)When to Make. An objection is timely if:
(A) a party objects at the opportunity provided under Rule 51(b)(3)(C); or
(B) a party was not informed of an instruction or action on a request before having an opportunity to object under Rule 51(b)(3)(C), and the party objects promptly after learning that the instruction or request will be, or has been, given or refused.
(d) Assigning Error; Fundamental Error.
(1)Assigning Error. A party may assign as error:
(A) an error in an instruction actually given, if that party properly objected; or
(B) a failure to give an instruction, if that party properly requested it and-unless the court rejected the request in a definitive ruling on the record-also properly objected.
(2)Fundamental Error. A court may consider a fundamental error as allowed by law, even if the error was not preserved.
(e) Record.
(1)Jury Communications. All communications between the court and members of the jury panel must be in writing or on the record.
(2)Preliminary and Final Instructions. The court's preliminary and final instructions on the law must be in writing and filed.

Ariz. R. Civ. P. 51

Amended effective January 1, 2017.

Comment

2017 Amendment to Rule 51

The 2017 amendment adopts the provisions of Rule 51 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing the required timing of objections to jury instructions. Under the amended rule, with some exceptions, objections must now be made before the instructions and arguments are delivered to the jury. This departs from Arizona's former rule, which allowed parties to object to jury instructions at any time before the jury retired to consider its verdict.