CACI No. 101. Overview of Trial

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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101.Overview of Trial
To assist you in your tasks as jurors, I will now explain how the trial
will proceed. I will begin by identifying the parties to the case. [Name of
plaintiff] filed this lawsuit. [He/She/Nonbinary pronoun/It] is called a
[plaintiff/petitioner]. [He/She/Nonbinary pronoun/It] seeks
[damages/specify other relief]from [name of defendant], who is called a
[[Name of plaintiff] claims [insert description of the plaintiff’s claim(s)].
[Name of defendant] denies those claims. [[Name of defendant] also
contends that [insert description of the defendant’s affırmative defense(s)].]]
[[Name of cross-complainant] has also filed what is called a cross
complaint against [name of cross-defendant]. [Name of cross-complainant]
is the [defendant/respondent], but also is called the cross-complainant.
[Name of cross-defendant] is called a cross-defendant.]
[In [his/her/nonbinary pronoun/its] cross-complaint, [name of cross-
complainant] claims [insert description of the cross-complainant’s claim(s)].
[Name of cross-defendant] denies those claims. [[Name of cross-defendant]
also contends that [insert description of the cross-defendant’s affırmative
defense(s) to the cross-complaint].]]
First, each side may make an opening statement, but neither side is
required to do so. An opening statement is not evidence. It is simply an
outline to help you understand what that party expects the evidence will
show. Also, because it is often difficult to give you the evidence in the
order we would prefer, the opening statement allows you to keep an
overview of the case in mind during the presentation of the evidence.
Next, the jury will hear the evidence. [Name of plaintiff] will present
evidence first. When [name of plaintiff] is finished, [name of defendant] will
have an opportunity to present evidence. [Then [name of cross-
complainant] will present evidence. Finally, [name of cross-defendant] will
present evidence.]
Each witness will first be questioned by the side that asked the witness to
testify. This is called direct examination. Then the other side is permitted
to question the witness. This is called cross-examination.
Documents or objects referred to during the trial are called exhibits.
Exhibits are given a [number/letter] so that they may be clearly
identified. Exhibits are not evidence until I admit them into evidence.
During your deliberations, you will be able to look at all exhibits
admitted into evidence.
There are many rules that govern whether something will be admitted
into evidence. As one side presents evidence, the other side has the right
to object and to ask me to decide if the evidence is permitted by the
rules. Usually, I will decide immediately, but sometimes I may have to
hear arguments outside of your presence.
After the evidence has been presented, I will instruct you on the law that
applies to the case and the attorneys will make closing arguments. What
the parties say in closing argument is not evidence. The arguments are
offered to help you understand the evidence and how the law applies to
New September 2003; Revised February 2007, June 2010, May 2019
Directions for Use
This instruction is intended to provide a “road map” for the jurors. This instruction
should be read in conjunction with CACI No. 100, Preliminary Admonitions.
The bracketed second, third, and fourth paragraphs are optional. The court may wish
to use these paragraphs to provide the jurors with an explanation of the claims and
defenses that are at issue in the case. Include the third and fourth paragraphs if a
cross-complaint is also being tried. Include the last sentence in the second and
fourth paragraphs if affirmative defenses are asserted on the complaint or cross-
The sixth paragraph presents the order of proof. If there is a cross-complaint,
include the last two sentences. Alternatively, the parties may stipulate to a different
order of proof - for example, by agreeing that some evidence will apply to both the
complaint and the cross-complaint. In this case, customize this paragraph to
correspond to the stipulation.
Sources and Authority
Pretrial Instructions on Trial Issues and Procedure. Rule 2.1035 of the California
Rules of Court.
Order of Trial Proceedings. Code of Civil Procedure section 607.
“[W]e can understand that it might not have seemed like [cross-complainants]
were producing much evidence on their cross-complaint at trial. Most of the
relevant (and undisputed) facts bearing on the legal question of whether [cross-
defendants] had a fiduciary duty and, if so, violated it, had been brought out in
plaintiffs’ case-in-chief. But just because the undisputed evidence favoring the
cross-complaint also happened to come out on plaintiffs’ case-in-chief does not
mean it was not available to support the cross-complaint.” (Le v. Pham (2010)
180 Cal.App.4th 1201, 1207 [103 Cal.Rptr.3d 606], original italics.)
Secondary Sources
7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, § 147
Wegner et al., Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Trials and Evidence, Ch. 1, Preparing for
Trial, ¶¶ 1:1, 1:2 (The Rutter Group)
48 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, § 551.50 (Matthew
California Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings - Trial § 3.100 (Cal CJER 2019)

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