This study investigated the extent to which women disregard inadmissible evidence in a simulated rape case as a function of when they receive a judge's global legal instructions concerning presumption of innocence, burden of proof, reasonable doubt, and inadmissible evidence. We hypothesized that participants would be more likely to disregard incriminating inadmissible evidence when the instructions were given before rather than after the trial. Participants listened to audiotaped excerpts from a rape trial. They were given pretrial, predeliberation, or both sets of instructions; and received admissible or inadmissible avidence or no prior rape testimony, after which they made judgments. The results supported hypothesis that pretrial instructions are more effective than predeliberation instructions in allowing participants to disregard inadmissible evidence.

One cannot unring a bell; after the thrust of a saber, it is difficult to say forget the wound; and finally, if you throw a skunk into the jury box, you can't instruct the jury not to smell it (Dunn v. United States, 1962, p. 886).