Dateline: July, 2007, Issue 2

How can jurors be instructed more effectively to disregard inadmissible evidence?

Judicial instructions to ignore inadmissible evidence typically do not eliminate the impact of that evidence on jurors.

Consistent with this common research finding, Steblay and colleagues (2006) report that contested evidence ruled inadmissible accentuates that information, and jurors use the inadmissible evidence despite judicial instructions to disregard it.

Interestingly, however, these researchers also found that if judges provide a rationale for a ruling of inadmissibility, juror compliance increases with instructions to disregard inadmissible evidence.

In sum, while judicial instructions do not eliminate the impact of inadmissible evidence on jurors, providing a rationale for rulings of inadmissibility to jurors reduces use of that evidence.

Source Steblay, N., Hosch, H., Culhane, S. E., & McWethy, A. (2006). The impact of juror verdicts of judicial instruction to disregard inadmissible evidence: A meta-analysis. Law and Human Behavior, 2006, pp. 469-542.