Exhibits: Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width
By John Derrick
The law is no stranger to fictions. For example, it indulges the notion that bells can be unrung when witnesses blurt out things they aren’t meant to say in front of juries. As the U.S. Supreme Court candidly admitted, "[t]he naive assumption that prejudicial effects can be overcome by instructions to the jury, all practicing lawyers know to be unmitigated fiction." (Krulewitch v. United States (1949) 336 U.S. 440, 453, citation omitted.) Yet the law nonetheless presumes that such instructions are followed.