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Memory and Law$
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Lynn Nadel and Walter P. Sinnott-Armstrong

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199920754

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199920754.001.0001

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Realizing the Potential of Instructions to Disregard

Realizing the Potential of Instructions to Disregard

Chapter:
(p.185) 8 Realizing the Potential of Instructions to Disregard
Source:
Memory and Law
Author(s):

Linda J. Demaine

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199920754.003.0008

The chapter addresses a longstanding issue of import to the courts—what instructions to disregard trial judges should issue when jurors are exposed to unfairly prejudicial inadmissible evidence. While the purpose of these instructions is easily stated—to minimize the influence objectionable evidence exerts on jurors—how best to formulate the instructions is considerably more challenging. Courts exclude this evidence precisely because it tends to unduly bias jurors against parties, contrary to the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial. What might trial judges say to effectively negate this prejudice? The chapter takes two converging approaches to answering this question. It draws upon empirical research in the behavioral sciences to: 1) evaluate previous proposals intended to improve on the traditional instructions to disregard, and 2) suggest factors that trial judges might profitably consider when crafting and delivering instructions to disregard.

Keywords:   inadmissible evidence, instructions to disregard, jury decision making, fair trial, intentional forgetting, debiasing

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