Realizing the Potential of Instructions to Disregard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMemory and Law
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199950133
ISBN (Print)9780199920754
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Debiasing
  • Fair trial
  • Inadmissible evidence
  • Instructions to disregard
  • Intentional forgetting
  • Jury decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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