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California Jury Instructions

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CACI?

Are the CACI instructions mandatory?

Can special instructions still be proposed?

Why did the Judicial Council authorize drafting new plain English jury instructions?

Does CACI change the law in California?

What is the status of BAJI?

What subject matters and practice areas are covered by CACI?

Does CACI cover the topics that appear in BAJI?

Is there a way to tell which Judicial Council instructions replace which BAJI instructions?

When did the CACI instructions take effect?

How should CACI be cited?

Were the CACI instructions distributed for public comment?

Are the CACI instructions available in paper and electronic versions?

How is CACI updated?

What if I want to suggest a revision to a CACI instruction?

Where can I find more information about CACI?

What is CACI?
CACI (Pronounced "Kay See") is the name of the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions, the official civil jury instructions and verdict forms approved by the council on July 16, 2003. "CACI" means "California Civil Instructions."

Are the CACI mandatory?
The Judicial Council has not mandated use of CACI to the exclusion of other jury instructions. However, under rule (2.1050) of the California Rules of Court, the CACI instructions are designated as the “official instructions for use in the state of California.” The rule further states that use of the new instructions is “strongly encouraged” and they are recommended for use unless a judge “finds that a different instruction would more accurately state the law and be understood by jurors.” Rule (2.1050(a)(e).) So CACI instructions are clearly preferred, and there is an affirmative burden to make a legal case for using a non-CACI instruction if there is a CACI instruction on the subject.

Can special instructions still be proposed?
Special instructions may be proposed under Code of Civil Procedure § 609, but they must conform to the format requirements of  rule (2.1055). If there is no CACI instruction on a subject on which the trial judge determines that the jury should be instructed, or if a CACI instruction cannot be modified to submit the issue properly, another instruction may be given on that subject. The instruction should be accurate, brief, understandable, impartial, and free from argument. Rule (2.1050(e).)

Why did the Judicial Council authorize drafting new plain English jury instructions?
In 1996 the Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvement concluded "jury instructions as presently given in California and elsewhere are, on occasion, simply impenetrable to the ordinary juror." The commission recommended that jury instructions be redrafted in more understandable language. In response, the Judicial Council created the Task Force on Jury Instructions in 1997, and directed that it draft comprehensive, legally accurate jury instructions that are readily understood by the average juror.

Does CACI change the law in California?
No, the CACI instructions do not change the law. In drafting the new instructions, the Task Force was charged with accurately stating existing law in a way that is understandable to the average juror. The articulation and interpretation of California law remains within the purview of the Legislature and courts of review. Rule (2.1050(b).)

What is the status of BAJI?
BAJI no longer is officially approved by state court rules. Los Angeles Superior Court's BAJI Committee has disbanded. The Thomson-West company, who owns the BAJI copyright, continues to publish and update BAJI.

What subject matter and practice areas are covered by CACI?
CACI includes jury instructions and special verdict forms covering the following areas:

  • Preliminary instructions
  • Evidence instructions
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Employment relations
  • Statutory actions, including
    • FELA
    • Civil rights
    • Elder abuse
    • Consumer warranty
    • Unfair Practices Act
    • Cartwright Act
    • Lanterman Petris Short Conservatorships
    • Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act
  • Conspiracy
  • Vicarious responsibility
  • Equitable indemnity
  • Damages
  • Unlawful Detainer
  • Concluding instructions and general verdicts

Does CACI cover the topics that appear in BAJI?
Yes, CACI cover the topics that appear in BAJI, plus other subjects that are not covered, such as antitrust, federal civil rights, lemon law, and the Family Leave Act.

Is there a way to tell which CACI Instructions replace which BAJI instructions?
Print and online versions of the CACI Instructions contain correlation tables that compare the two sets of instructions. You can also (view the tables online.)

When did the CACI instructions take effect?
They took effect on September 1, 2003.

How should the new instructions be cited?
The full cite should be to "Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (year)". The short cite to particular instructions should be to "CACI No. ____."

Were the CACI instructions distributed for public comment?
Yes, starting in 2000, draft versions of the new instructions were circulated annually to the legal community for public comment and were posted on the court's public Web site. The 18-member civil subcommittee of the Task Force on Jury Instructions carefully reviewed the comments, which were the basis for many revisions.

Is CACI available in paper and electronic versions?
Yes, the official publisher of the Judicial Council jury instructions, LexisNexis™ Matthew Bender®, has published print volumes of the new instructions, including tables of cases and statutes, an index, and a table correlating CACI to related BAJI numbers and vice versa. Other publishers also provide CACI in print and online under licenses with the Judicial Council. LexisNexis produces an interactive document assembly software program on its HotDocs platform. This product allows judges and attorneys to electronically create customized sets of instructions to fit the facts of each case by entering each piece of information only once. The text of the CACI instructions is also available at the California Courts Web site.

How is CACI updated?
CACI is regularly updated and maintained by the Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions. The committee works with staff from the Office of the General Counsel of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Proposed new instructions and revisions to existing instructions are distributed for public comment before being submitting to the Judicial Council for approval. Rules (2.1050(d).) and (2.1058) .

What if I want to suggest a revision to a CACI instruction?
The Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions welcomes comments. Send print comments to:

Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions
Attention Bruce Greenlee
c/o Administrative Office of the Courts
Office of General Counsel
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3588

Or you may send comments by e-mail to civiljuryinstructions@jud.ca.gov.

Where can I find more information about CACI?
Questions or suggestions can be e-mailed to civiljuryinstructions@jud.ca.gov

Information on publications or products can be directed to:

Official Publisher, Lexis Nexis
phone: 800-424-0651, ext. 3405
e-mail at caljuryinstructions@lexisnexis.com