California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

100. Preliminary Admonitions

You have now been sworn as jurors in this case. I want to impress on you the seriousness and importance of serving on a jury. Trial by jury is a fundamental right in California. The parties have a right to a jury that is selected fairly, that comes to the case without bias, and that will attempt to reach a verdict based on the evidence presented. Before we begin, I need to explain how you must conduct yourselves during the trial.

Do not allow anything that happens outside this courtroom to affect your decision. During the trial do not talk about this case or the people involved in it with anyone, including family and persons living in your household, friends and co-workers, spiritual leaders, advisors, or therapists. You may say you are on a jury and how long the trial may take, but that is all. You must not even talk about the case with the other jurors until after I tell you that it is time for you to decide the case.

This prohibition is not limited to face-to-face conversations. It also extends to all forms of electronic communications. Do not use any electronic device or media, such as a cell phone or smart phone, PDA, computer, the Internet, any Internet service, any text or instant- messaging service, any Internet chat room, blog, or website, including social networking websites or online diaries, to send or receive any information to or from anyone about this case or your experience as a juror until after you have been discharged from your jury duty.

During the trial you must not listen to anyone else talk about the case or the people involved in the case. You must avoid any contact with the parties, the lawyers, the witnesses, and anyone else who may have a connection to the case. If anyone tries to talk to you about this case, tell that person that you cannot discuss it because you are a juror. If he or she keeps talking to you, simply walk away and report the incident to the court [attendant/bailiff] as soon as you can.

After the trial is over and I have released you from jury duty, you may discuss the case with anyone, but you are not required to do so.

During the trial, do not read, listen to, or watch any news reports about this case. [I have no information that there will be news reports concerning this case.] This prohibition extends to the use of the Internet in any way, including reading any blog about the case or about anyone involved with it. If you receive any information about this case from any source outside of the courtroom, promptly report it to the court [attendant/bailiff]. It is important that all jurors see and hear the same evidence at the same time.

Do not do any research on your own or as a group. Do not use dictionaries, the Internet, or other reference materials. Do not investigate the case or conduct any experiments. Do not contact anyone to assist you, such as a family accountant, doctor, or lawyer. Do not visit or view the scene of any event involved in this case or use any Internet maps or mapping programs or any other program or device to search for or to view any place discussed in the testimony. If you happen to pass by the scene, do not stop or investigate. If you do need to view the scene during the trial, you will be taken there as a group under proper supervision.

[If you violate any of these prohibitions on communications and research, including prohibitions on electronic communications and research, you may be held in contempt of court or face other sanctions. That means that you may have to serve time in jail, pay a fine, or face other punishment for that violation.]

It is important that you keep an open mind throughout this trial. Evidence can only be presented a piece at a time. Do not form or express an opinion about this case while the trial is going on. You must not decide on a verdict until after you have heard all the evidence and have discussed it thoroughly with your fellow jurors in your deliberations.

Do not concern yourselves with the reasons for the rulings I will make during the course of the trial. Do not guess what I may think your verdict should be from anything I might say or do.

When you begin your deliberations, you may discuss the case only in the jury room and only when all the jurors are present.

You must decide what the facts are in this case. Do not let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence your verdict.

At the end of the trial, I will explain the law that you must follow to reach your verdict. You must follow the law as I explain it to you, even if you do not agree with the law.

New September 2003; Revised April 2004, October 2004, February 2005, June 2005, December 2007, December 2009, December 2011, December 2012

Directions for Use

This instruction should be given at the outset of every case, even as early as when the jury panel enters the courtroom (without the first sentence).

If the jury is allowed to separate, Code of Civil Procedure section 611 requires the judge to admonish the jury that “it is their duty not to converse with, or suffer themselves to be addressed by any other person, on any subject of the trial, and that it is their duty not to form or express an opinion thereon until the case is finally submitted to them.”

Sources and Authority

  • Article I, section 16 of the California Constitution provides that “trial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured to all.”
  • Code of Civil Procedure section 608 provides in part: “In charging the jury the court may state to them all matters of law which it thinks necessary for their information in giving their verdict; and, if it state the testimony of the case, it must inform the jury that they are the exclusive judges of all questions of fact.” (See also Evid. Code, § 312; Code Civ. Proc., § 592.)
  • Code of Civil Procedure section 611 provides: “If the jury are permitted to separate, either during the trial or after the case is submitted to them, they shall be admonished by the court that it is their duty not to conduct research, disseminate information, or converse with, or permit themselves to be addressed by, any other person, on any subject of the trial, and that it is their duty not to form or express an opinion thereon until the case is finally submitted to them. The court shall clearly explain, as part of the admonishment, that the prohibition on research, dissemination of information, and conversation applies to all forms of electronic and wireless communication.”
  • Code of Civil Procedure section 1209(a) provides in part:
    (a) The following acts or omissions in respect to a court of justice, or proceedings therein, are contempts of the authority of the court:
    (1)–(5) omitted
    (6) Willful disobedience by a juror of a court admonishment related to the prohibition on any form of communication or research about the case, including all forms of electronic or wireless communication or research.
    (7)–(12) omitted
  • Under Code of Civil Procedure section 611, jurors may not “form or express an opinion” prior to deliberations. (See also City of Pleasant Hill v. First Baptist Church of Pleasant Hill (1969) 1 Cal.App.3d 384, 429 [82 Cal.Rptr. 1]. It is misconduct for a juror to prejudge the case. (Deward v. Clough (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 439, 443–444 [54 Cal.Rptr. 68].)
  • Jurors must not undertake independent investigations of the facts in a case. (Kritzer v. Citron (1950) 101 Cal.App.2d 33, 36 [224 P.2d 808]; Walter v. Ayvazian (1933) 134 Cal.App. 360, 365 [25 P.2d 526].)
  • Jurors are required to avoid discussions with parties, counsel, or witnesses. (Wright v. Eastlick (1899) 125 Cal. 517, 520–521 [58 P. 87]; Garden Grove School Dist. v. Hendler (1965) 63 Cal.2d 141, 144 [45 Cal.Rptr. 313, 403 P.2d 721].)
  • It is misconduct for jurors to engage in experiments that produce new evidence. (Smoketree-Lake Murray, Ltd. v. Mills Concrete Construction Co. (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 1724, 1746 [286 Cal.Rptr. 435].)
  • Unauthorized visits to the scene of matters involved in the case are improper. (Anderson v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (1963) 218 Cal.App.2d 276, 280 [32 Cal.Rptr. 328].)
  • It is improper for jurors to receive information from the news media about the case. (Province v. Center for Women’s Health & Family Birth (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1673, 1679 [25 Cal.Rptr.2d 667], disapproved on other grounds in Heller v. Norcal Mutual Ins. Co. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 30, 41 [32 Cal.Rptr.2d 200, 876 P.2d 999]; Hilliard v. A. H. Robins Co. (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 374, 408 [196 Cal.Rptr. 117].)
  • Jurors must avoid bias: “ ‘The right to unbiased and unprejudiced jurors is an inseparable and inalienable part of the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Constitution.’ ” (Weathers v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (1971) 5 Cal.3d 98, 110 [95 Cal.Rptr. 516, 485 P.2d 1132], internal citations omitted.) Evidence of racial prejudice and bias on the part of jurors amounts to misconduct and may constitute grounds for ordering a new trial. (Ibid.)
  • An instruction to disregard any appearance of bias on the part of the judge is proper and may cure any error in a judge’s comments. (Gist v. French (1955) 136 Cal.App.2d 247, 257–259 [288 P.2d 1003], disapproved on other grounds in Deshotel v. Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. (1958) 50 Cal.2d 664, 667 [328 P.2d 449] and West v. City of San Diego (1960) 54 Cal.2d 469, 478 [6 Cal.Rptr. 289, 353 P.2d 929].) “It is well understood by most trial judges that it is of the utmost importance that the trial judge not communicate in any manner to the jury the judge’s opinions on the case submitted to the jury, because juries tend to attach inflated importance to any such communication, even when the judge has no intention whatever of influencing a jury’s determination.” (Dorshkind v. Harry N. Koff Agency, Inc. (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 302, 307 [134 Cal.Rptr. 344].)

Secondary Sources

27 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 322, Juries and Jury Selection, § 322.50 (Matthew Bender)

1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, Ch. 17, Dealing With the Jury, 17.05