California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1706. Definition of Statement

The word “statement” in these instructions refers to any form of communication or representation, including spoken or written words [or] pictures [or] [insert audible or visual representations].

New September 2003

Directions for Use

This instruction may be necessary in every case, but could be useful in cases where defamatory material is not written or verbal.

Sources and Authority

  • Civil Code section 45 provides: “Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.”
  • Civil Code section 46 provides:

    Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which:

    1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;

    2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;

    3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;

    4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or

    5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 529—555

4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 45, Defamation, § 45.02 (Matthew Bender)

30 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 340, Libel and Slander, § 340.18 (Matthew Bender)

14 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 142, Libel and Slander (Defamation), § 142.21 (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 21:2