Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Obscure California Law, Part II.

"Innocent recollection is not uncommon."

California jurors generally received this instruction to guide their deliberations.

Until now.

As part of the California Judicial Council's recent overhaul of jury instructions, this instruction has been rewritten to read: "People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember."

Others included: "A witness who is willfully false in one material aspect of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others. You may reject the whole testimony of a witness who willfully has testified falsely as to a material point, unless, from all the evidence, you believe the probability of truth favors his or her testimony in other particulars."

Now: "If you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something important, you should consider not believing anything that witness says. Or, if you think the witness lied about some things, but told the truth about toerhs, you may simply accept the part that you think is true and ignore the rest."

Nicely done.

(HT: California Bar Journal, Sept. 2005.)