California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

106. Evidence

You must decide what the facts are in this case only from the evidence you see or hear during the trial. Sworn testimony, documents, or anything else may be admitted into evidence. You may not consider as evidence anything that you see or hear when court is not in session, even something done or said by one of the parties, attorneys, or witnesses.

What the attorneys say during the trial is not evidence. In their opening statements and closing arguments, the attorneys will talk to you about the law and the evidence. What the lawyers say may help you understand the law and the evidence, but their statements and arguments are not evidence.

The attorneys’ questions are not evidence. Only the witnesses’ answers are evidence. You should not think that something is true just because an attorney’s question suggests that it is true. However, the attorneys for both sides can agree that certain facts are true. This agreement is called a “stipulation.” No other proof is needed and you must accept those facts as true in this trial.

Each side has the right to object to evidence offered by the other side. If I do not agree with the objection, I will say it is overruled. If I overrule an objection, the witness will answer and you may consider the evidence. If I agree with the objection, I will say it is sustained. If I sustain an objection, you must ignore the question. If the witness did not answer, you must not guess what he or she might have said or why I sustained the objection. If the witness has already answered, you must ignore the answer.

An attorney may make a motion to strike testimony that you have heard. If I grant the motion, you must totally disregard that testimony. You must treat it as though it did not exist.

New September 2003; Revised February 2005, December 2010, December 2012

Directions for Use

This instruction should be given as an introductory instruction.

Sources and Authority

  • Evidence Code section 140 defines “evidence” as “testimony, writings, material objects, or other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact.”
  • Evidence Code section 312 provides:

    Except as otherwise provided by law, where the trial is by jury:

    (a) All questions of fact are to be decided by the jury.

    (b) Subject to the control of the court, the jury is to determine the effect and value of the evidence addressed to it, including the credibility of witnesses and hearsay declarants.

  • Evidence Code section 353 provides:

    A verdict or finding shall not be set aside, nor shall the judgment or decision based thereon be reversed, by reason of the erroneous admission of evidence unless:

    (a) There appears of record an objection to or a motion to exclude or to strike the evidence that was timely made and so stated as to make clear the specific ground of the objection or motion; and

    (b) The court which passes upon the effect of the error or errors is of the opinion that the admitted evidence should have been excluded on the ground stated and that the error or errors complained of resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

  • A stipulation in proper form is binding on the parties if it is within the authority of the attorney. Properly stipulated facts may not be contradicted. (Palmer v. City of Long Beach (1948) 33 Cal.2d 134, 141–142 [199 P.2d 952].)
  • Courts have held that “attempts to suggest matters of an evidentiary nature to a jury other than by the legitimate introduction into evidence is misconduct whether by questions on cross-examination, argument or other means.” (Smith v. Covell (1980) 100 Cal.App.3d 947, 960 [161 Cal.Rptr. 377].)
  • Courts have stated that “[t]he right to object on appeal to misconduct or improper argument, even when prejudicial, is generally waived in the absence of a proper objection and request the jury be admonished.” (Atkins v. Bisigier (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 414, 427 [94 Cal.Rptr. 49]; Horn v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. (1964) 61 Cal.2d 602, 610 [39 Cal.Rptr. 721, 394 P.2d 561].)
  • Secondary Sources

    3 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Presentation at Trial

    7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, §§ 281, 282

    1A California Trial Guide, Unit 21, Procedures for Determining Admissibility of Evidence, §§ 21.01, 21.03 (Matthew Bender)

    27 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 322, Juries and Jury Selection, §§ 322.56–322.57 (Matthew Bender)

    48 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, §§ 551.61, 551.77 (Matthew Bender)