State v. Williams (1975)

In State v. Williams, 169 Conn. 322, 363 A.2d 72 (1975), the court evaluated the challenged jury instruction by reading the charge as a whole to determine whether the instruction in its entirety gave the jury a "clear understanding of the issues involved and a proper guidance in determining those issues." The Supreme Court found that such language is not of the kind that would render a jury unable to decide questions of fact and that the jury instruction was not "improper under the circumstances." State v. Williams, supra, 336. The defendant in Williams objected to the following jury instruction: "'Now, you have heard in the course of arguments discussion as to whether the police conducted a thorough search. You have also heard some discussion about the competency of the police in this arrest. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this question might be a matter of opinion, but the State has put its evidence before you, and the defense was entitled to make an investigation and put its evidence before you also, and, of course, not only the State but also the defense has put on evidence on behalf of the defendant. I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the issue before you is not the thoroughness of the investigation or the competence of the police. The issue you have to determine is whether the State in the light of all of the evidence before you has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty on one or both counts with which he is charged.'" State v. Williams, supra, 169 Conn. 335-36.