CACI No. 5003. Witnesses

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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A witness is a person who has knowledge related to this case. You will
have to decide whether you believe each witness and how important each
witness’s testimony is to the case. You may believe all, part, or none of a
witness’s testimony.
In deciding whether to believe a witness’s testimony, you may consider,
among other factors, the following:
(a) How well did the witness see, hear, or otherwise sense what the
witness described in court?
(b) How well did the witness remember and describe what
(c) How did the witness look, act, and speak while testifying?
(d) Did the witness have any reason to say something that was not
true? For example, did the witness show any bias or prejudice or
have a personal relationship with any of the parties involved in
the case or have a personal stake in how this case is decided?
(e) What was the witness’s attitude toward this case or about giving
Sometimes a witness may say something that is not consistent with
something else the witness said. Sometimes different witnesses will give
different versions of what happened. People often forget things or make
mistakes in what they remember. Also, two people may see the same
event but remember it differently. You may consider these differences,
but do not decide that testimony is untrue just because it differs from
other testimony.
However, if you decide that a witness did not tell the truth about
something important, you may choose not to believe anything that
witness said. On the other hand, if you think the witness did not tell the
truth about some things but told the truth about others, you may accept
the part you think is true and ignore the rest.
Do not make any decision simply because there were more witnesses on
one side than on the other. If you believe it is true, the testimony of a
single witness is enough to prove a fact.
You must not be biased in favor of or against any witness because of the
witness’s disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation,
age, national origin, [or] socioeconomic status[, or [insert any other
impermissible form of bias]].
New September 2003; Revised April 2004, April 2007, December 2012, December
2016, May 2020
Directions for Use
This instruction may be given as either an introductory instruction before trial (see
CACI No. 107) or as a concluding instruction.
The advisory committee recommends that this instruction be read to the jury before
reading instructions on the substantive law.
In the last paragraph, the court may delete inapplicable categories of potential jury
Sources and Authority
Role of Jury. Evidence Code section 312.
Considerations for Evaluating the Credibility of Witnesses. Evidence Code
section 780.
Direct Evidence of Single Witness Sufficient. Evidence Code section 411.
The willfully false witness instruction was formerly codified at Code of Civil
Procedure section 2061. This statute was repealed in 1965 to avoid giving undue
emphasis to this rule compared to other common-law rules. Refusal to give an
instruction on this point is not error: “It should certainly not be deemed of vital
importance to tell the ordinary man of the world that he should distrust the
statements of a witness whom he believes to be a liar.” (Wallace v. Pacific
Electric Ry. Co. (1930) 105 Cal.App. 664, 671 [288 P. 834].)
Standard 10.20(a)(2) of the Standards for Judicial Administration provides: “In
all courtroom proceedings, refrain from engaging in conduct and prohibit others
from engaging in conduct that exhibits bias, including but not limited to bias
based on disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation,
whether that bias is directed toward counsel, court personnel, witnesses, parties,
jurors, or any other participants.”
Canon 3(b)(5) of the Code of Judicial Ethics provides: “A judge shall perform
judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of
judicial duties, engage in speech, gestures, or other conduct that would
reasonably be perceived as (1) bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias
or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual
orientation, or socioeconomic status, or (2) sexual harassment.” Canon 3(b)(6)
requires the judge to impose these standards on attorneys also.
Secondary Sources
7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, § 299
Wegner et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence, Ch. 10-D,
Objectives Of Cross-Examination, 10:91 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
Wegner et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence, Ch. 8E-F,
Limitations On Impeachment And Rehabilitation, 8:2990 et seq. (The Rutter
1A California Trial Guide, Unit 20, Procedural Rules for Presentation of Evidence
(Matthew Bender)
14 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, § 551.110 et seq.
(Matthew Bender)
Cotchett, California Courtroom Evidence, § 16.45 (Matthew Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure,
Ch. 11, Questioning Witnesses and Objections, 11.03 et seq.

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