California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

5000. Duties of the Judge and Jury

Members of the jury, you have now heard all the evidence [and the closing arguments of the attorneys]. [The attorneys will have one last chance to talk to you in closing argument. But before they do, it] [It] is my duty to instruct you on the law that applies to this case. You must follow these instructions as well as those that I previously gave you. You will have a copy of my instructions with you when you go to the jury room to deliberate. [I have provided each of you with your own copy of the instructions.] [I will display each instruction on the screen.]

You must decide what the facts are. You must consider all the evidence and then decide what you think happened. You must decide the facts based on the evidence admitted in this trial. 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. If you happen to pass by the scene, do not stop or investigate. All jurors must see or hear the same evidence at the same time. [Do not read, listen to, or watch any news accounts of this trial.] You must not let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence your decision.

I will now tell you the law that you must follow to reach your verdict. You must follow the law exactly as I give it to you, even if you disagree with it. If the attorneys [have said/say] anything different about what the law means, you must follow what I say.

In reaching your verdict, do not guess what I think your verdict should be from something I may have said or done.

Pay careful attention to all the instructions that I give you. All the instructions are important because together they state the law that you will use in this case. You must consider all of the instructions together.

After you have decided what the facts are, you may find that some instructions do not apply. In that case, follow the nstructions that do apply and use them together with the facts to reach your verdict.

If I repeat any ideas or rules of law during my instructions, that does not mean that these ideas or rules are more important than the others are. In addition, the order in which the instructions are given does not make any difference.

[Most of the instructions are typed. However, some handwritten or typewritten words may have been added, and some words may have been deleted. Do not discuss or consider why words may have been added or deleted. Please treat all the words the same, no matter what their format. Simply accept the instruction in its final form.]

Directions for Use

As indicated by the brackets in the first paragraph, this instruction can be read either before or after closing arguments. The Advisory Committee recommends that this instruction be read to the jury before reading instructions on the substantive law.

Sources and Authority

Code of Civil Procedure section 608 provides that "[i]n charging the jury the court may state to them all matters of law which it thinks necessary for their information in giving their verdict." It also provides that the court "must inform the jury that they are the exclusive judges of all questions of fact." (See also Code Civ. Proc., § 592.)

Evidence Code section 312(a) provides that "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by law, where the trial is by jury [a]ll questions of fact are to be decided by the jury."

An instruction to disregard any appearance of bias on the part of the judge is proper. (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- 479 [6 Cal.Rptr. 289, 353 P.2d 929].)

Jurors must avoid bias: " 'The right to unbiased and unprejudiced jurors is an inseparable and inalienable part of the right to trial by jury uaranteed 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 consider all the instructions together can help avoid instructional errors of conflict, omission, and undue emphasis. (Escamilla v. Marshburn Brothers (1975) 48 Cal.App.3d 472, 484 [121 Cal.Rptr. 891].)

Providing an instruction stating that, depending on what the jury finds to be the facts, some of the instructions may not apply can help avoid reversal on the grounds of misleading jury instructions. (See Rodgers v. Kemper Construction Co. (1975) 50 Cal.App.3d 608, 629-630 [124 Cal.Rptr. 143].)

In Bertero v. National General Corp. (1974) 13 Cal.3d 43, 57-59 [118 Cal.Rptr. 184, 529 P.2d 608], the Supreme Court held that the giving of cautionary instructions stating that no undue emphasis was intended by repetition and that the judge did not intend to imply how any issue should be decided, ought to be considered in weighing the net effect of the instructions on the jury.

Secondary Sources

7 Witkin, California Procedure (4th ed. 1997) Trial, § 268

4 California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict, § 91.20 (Matthew Bender)

28 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 326, Jury Instructions, § 326.21 (Matthew Bender)

(Revised February 2005)