Adequacy of Instructions to the Jury: II
The six states in this group present some very special cases. They range from an original colony to Florida and Texas, which were admitted to statehood in 1845. National rank in population varies from sixth (Texas) to twenty-sixth (Mississippi) with the average almost within the top one-third. As to increase of population, the mean is close to the national figure of fifteen percent. That statement needs qualification, however, since Florida increased 46 percent and Texas 20 percent, whereas Mississippi had an actual loss of two percent. No docket delay of more than six months is found anywhere except in Texas, but some real congestion is evident there.
None of these states could be called “code” in the sense of having followed the wave of imitation of the Field Code of New York-each having worked out its own system of regulation of procedure. At present, no judicial (supervisory) rule-making is known to exist in Louisiana or Mississippi, and the power is very limited in Alabama. Although the legislature still holds the leash in the other states, there has been judicial rule-making as to instructions in Georgia, Texas and Florida.
Instructions are given at the approved time (after argument) except in Mississippi and Texas, and written instructions are required only in those two states. In Alabama, to the contrary, it is mandatory that the general charge be oral. In Florida and Louisiana the charge may be oral unless the parties request that it be in writing; in Georgia the instructions are considered written if they are stenographically reported. In none of these states is the court permitted to summarize or comment on the evidence. In this latter connection the heavy hand of the constitutions and legislation of the Reconstruction period is most apparent.