California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
112. Questions From Jurors
If, during the trial, you have a question that you believe should be asked of a witness, you may write out the question and send it to me through my courtroom staff. I will share your question with the attorneys and decide whether it may be asked.
Do not feel disappointed if your question is not asked. Your question may not be asked for a variety of reasons. For example, the question may call for an answer that is not allowed for legal reasons. Also, you should not try to guess the reason why a question is not asked or speculate about what the answer might have been. Because the decision whether to allow the question is mine alone, do not hold it against any of the attorneys or their clients if your question is not asked.
Remember that you are not an advocate for one side or the other. Each of you is an impartial judge of the facts. Your questions should be posed in as neutral a fashion as possible. Do not discuss any question asked by any juror with any other juror until after deliberations begin.
New February 2005; Revised April 2007, April 2009, June 2011
Directions for Use
This is an optional instruction for use if the jurors will be allowed to ask questions of the witnesses. For an instruction to be given at the end of the trial, see CACI No. 5019, Questions From Jurors. This instruction may be modified to account for an individual judge’s practice.
Sources and Authority
- Rule 2.1033 of the California Rules of Court provides: “A trial judge should allow jurors to submit written questions directed to witnesses. An opportunity must be given to counsel to object to such questions out of the presence of the jury.”
- “In a proper case there may be a real benefit from allowing jurors to submit questions under proper control by the court. However, in order to permit the court to exercise its discretion and maintain control of the trial, the correct procedure is to have the juror write the questions for consideration by the court and counsel prior to their submission to the witness.” (People v. McAlister (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 633, 644 [213 Cal.Rptr. 271].)
- “[T]he judge has discretion to ask questions submitted by jurors or to pass those questions on and leave to the discretion of counsel whether to ask the questions.” (People v. Cummings (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1233, 1305 [18 Cal.Rptr.2d 796, 850 P.2d 1].)
- “The appellant urges that when jurymen ask improper questions the defendant is placed in the delicate dilemma of either allowing such question to go in without objection or of offending the jurors by making the objection and the appellant insists that the court of its own motion should check the putting of such improper questions by the jurymen, and thus relieve the party injuriously affected thereby from the odium which might result from making that objection thereto. There is no force in this contention. Objections to questions, whether asked by a juror or by opposing counsel, are presented to the court, and its ruling thereon could not reasonably affect the rights or standing of the party making the objection before the jury in the one case more than in the other.” (Maris v. H. Crummey, Inc. (1921) 55 Cal.App. 573, 578–579 [204 P. 259].)
3 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Presentation at Trial, § 85
Wegner et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence, Ch. 7-E, Juror Questioning Of Witnesses, ¶ 7:45.11b (The Rutter Group)
4 California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict, §§ 91.01–91.03 (Matthew Bender)