CACI No. 603. Alternative Legal Decisions or Strategies

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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603.Alternative Legal Decisions or Strategies
An attorney is not necessarily negligent just because the attorney
[chooses one legal strategy/makes a decision/makes a recommendation]
and it turns out that another [strategy/decision/recommendation] would
have been a better choice.
New September 2003; Revised May 2020
Sources and Authority
• “We recognize, of course, that an attorney engaging in litigation may have
occasion to choose among various alternative strategies available to his
client . . . .” (Smith v. Lewis (1975) 13 Cal.3d 349, 359 [118 Cal.Rptr. 621, 530
P.2d 589], overruled in part on other grounds in In re Marriage of Brown (1976)
15 Cal.3d 838, 851 [126 Cal.Rptr. 633, 544 P.2d 561].)
• “ ‘In view of the complexity of the law and the circumstances which call for
difficult choices among possible courses of action, the attorney cannot be held
legally responsible for an honest and reasonable mistake of law or an
unfortunate selection of remedy or other procedural step.’ [Citation.]” (Banerian
v. O’Malley (1974) 42 Cal.App.3d 604, 613 [116 Cal.Rptr. 919].)
Secondary Sources
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 32, Liability of Attorneys, § 32.11 (Matthew
Bender)
7 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 76, Attorney Professional Liability
(Matthew Bender)
2A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 24A, Attorneys at Law: Malpractice
(Matthew Bender)
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