Return to Return to Non-CALJIC Evidentiary – Contents
Cautionary Instruction: Relationship Of Exhibits To Testimony
The evidence which you are to consider will consist of both oral testimony and exhibits. In deciding how much weight, if any, to give an exhibit, you should consider its contents and see how it relates to the other evidence in the case. The fact that an exhibit may be given to you for examination does not mean that it is entitled to more weight than oral testimony.
Points and Authorities
The federal rules of evidence imply that unless care is taken, exhibits may carry undue weight with the jury. (See, for example, Rule 106, Rule 803(5) and Rule 803(18).) There is every reason to assume that this same concern applies in any trial whether it be federal or state. However, CALJIC provides no such instruction. Accordingly an instruction such as the one set forth above, which is taken from Saltzburg & Perlman, Federal Criminal Jury Instructions (1990 materials), Instruction 3.49, should be given.
By seeking to assure that the jurors fairly evaluate the evidence this instruction protects the defendant’s 6th and 14th Amendment federal constitutional rights to trial by jury and due process.