The California jury instructions approved by the Judicial Council are the official instructions for use in the state of California. The goal of these instructions is to improve the quality of jury decision making by providing standardized instructions that accurately state the law in a way that is understandable to the average juror.
The Judicial Council endorses these instructions for use and makes every effort to e;nsure that they accurately state existing law. The articulation and interpretation of California law, however, remains within the purview of the Legislature and the courts of review.
The Judicial Council must provide copies and updates of the approved jury instructions to the public on the California Courts Web site. The Judicial Council may contract with an official publisher to publish the instructions in both paper and electronic formats. The Judicial Council intends that the instructions be freely available for use and reproduction by parties, attorneys, and the public, except as limited by this subdivision. The Judicial Council may take steps necessary to ensure that publication of the instructions by commercial publishers does not occur without its permission, including, without limitation, ensuring that commercial publishers accurately publish the Judicial Council's instructions, accurately credit the Judicial Council as the source of the instructions, and do not claim copyright of the instructions. The Judicial Council may require commercial publishers to pay fees or royalties in exchange for permission to publish the instructions. As used in this rule, "commercial publishers" means entities that publish works for sale, whether for profit or otherwise.
(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2016; previously amended effective August 26, 2005, and January 1, 2007.)
The Judicial Council instructions will be regularly updated and maintained through its advisory committees on jury instructions. Amendments to these instructions will be circulated for public comment before publication. Trial judges and attorneys may submit for the advisory committees' consideration suggestions for improving or modifying these instructions or creating new instructions, with an explanation of why the change is proposed. Suggestions should be sent to the Judicial Council of California, Legal Services.
(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2016.)
Use of the Judicial Council instructions is strongly encouraged. If the latest edition of the jury instructions approved by the Judicial Council contains an instruction applicable to a case and the trial judge determines that the jury should be instructed on the subject, it is recommended that the judge use the Judicial Council instruction unless he or she finds that a different instruction would more accurately state the law and be understood by jurors. Whenever the latest edition of the Judicial Council jury instructions does not contain an instruction on a subject on which the trial judge determines that the jury should be instructed, or when a Judicial Council instruction cannot be modified to submit the issue properly, the instruction given on that subject should be accurate, brief, understandable, impartial, and free from argument.
Cal. R. Ct. 2.1050