CACI 5003 Witnesses

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

5003 Witnesses

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 happened?

(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 testimony?

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

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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 bias.

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 Group)
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.