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Unringing the Bell at a Medical Malpractice Trial

Is it possible to unring the bell at the time of a medical malpractice trial? Do you think that if you have said something that should not be said, the jury is likely to forget what you said? During the course of the trial, it is possible for either of the sides to say something that they should not have said. The judge might have decided that a particular topic is completely off limits, and one of the parties addresses something that the judge had ordered not to discuss.

Objection and Corrective Instruction

If the plaintiff says something that he is not supposed to be saying, then the defense is immediately going to object, and the judge will most likely admonish the plaintiff's lawyer. The defense lawyer will then ask for a corrective instruction to the jury. This means, the judge will have to instruct the jury, to ignore the comment or question that was just said or asked. This is called unringing the bell. Once the jury has heard something that they should not have heard, how can they go ahead and forget about it, especially when the court highlights the fact that they have to ignore what they have just heard.

Can the Jury Really Ignore what was Said

Two things are happening here. One is the jury is listening to something that they should not have heard, and the court is highlighting this fact and instructing the jury to put it out of their minds. The jury is specifically instructed not to consider what was said and not to use it as part of their evaluations when they go back to deliberate over the case. Now, is it possible for the jury to unring the bell, and forget about whatever they have heard? The answer of course is no.

The jury cannot simply forget what they just heard. For instance, if the plaintiff's lawyer brings up something that should not have been brought up, the defense attorney will object, and ask the court to instruct the jury. However, if the defense lawyer loses the case, he could take up the particular issue, when the case is appealed. Since whatever is said makes an impression, it is not possible for anybody to ignore it completely. Even though the jurors are instructed to ignore the remark or question, they may not be able to put it completely out of their minds when they are deliberating, and it might ultimately influence their decision.

Hard to Scratch Away Completely

Sometimes, lawyers can purposely say something they are not supposed to, as a strategy. A lawyer knows fully well that the opposing counsel will object, and the jury will be instructed to ignore the remark. However, the lawyer also knows that the damage would be done, and even though the jury is instructed to ignore the remark, it may not be possible for them to do so completely. The remark will leave some effect in its wake, and jurors might consider it while deliberating over a verdict.

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