Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM)
ebook ∣ Volume 2 · Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM 2023)
By Judicial Council of California
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The latest Release 18 (2023 edition) of Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) includes both new and recently revised jury instructions as approved by the Judicial Council, containing all instructions applicable to each and every case, allowing the trial judge to determine what the jury should be instructed on the subject. This 2023 Edition of CALCRIM includes a number of additions and changes to the instructions that were first published in 2005. In providing these updates, the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions is fulfilling its charge to ensure that CALCRIM reflects all changes in the law. The Judicial Council is fulfilling its charge to ensure that CALCRIM reflects all changes in the law so that the most up-to-date legal precedents is available to all legal practitioners.
The Judicial Council's reasoning as to why these CALCRIM instructions are so often impenetrable is that they are based on the language of case law and statutes written by and for a specialized legal audience, expressed in terms of art that have evolved through multiple languages, in many countries, over several centuries. CALCRIM's goal was not to lose either the majesty of the law or the rich language in which lawyers and judges have expressed it. In that regard, the work reflects a belief that this sound communication of the law and its instructions takes into account the audience to which it is addressed.
Because jurors perform an essential service in our democracy, the legal process is absolutely dependent upon them to apply the law fairly and accurately. In order to do so, they must be able to understand the instructions they are asked to follow. These instructions were prepared for that purpose by a statewide committee of justices from the Court of Appeal, trial court judges, attorneys, academicians, and lay people. They were then approved by the Judicial Council as the state's official instructions pursuant to the California Rules of Court (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 2.1050(a)). Accordingly, the Rules of Court strongly encourage their use and is recommended that CA Judges use the Judicial Council's instructions unless he or she finds that a different instruction would more accurately state the law and be understood by jurors.