Cal. Litig. 2016, Volume 29, Number 1

Demystifying CACI

By The Honorable Martin J. Tangeman

CACI (pronounced Casey) stands for "California Civil Instructions." CACI Instructions are the official civil jury instructions approved by the Judicial Council of California for use in the state of California. The goal of CACI 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. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 2.1050.)

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In 1996 the Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvement reported that jury instructions could be made more useful to the jury if they were redrafted in more understandable language, i.e., "plain English." The commission stated that "jury instructions as presently given in California and elsewhere are, on occasion, simply impenetrable to the ordinary juror." In response to the commission’s recommendation, the Judicial Council created the Task Force on Jury Instructions in 1997.

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