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9 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 21 (1985-1986)
Joint Trials, Spillover Prejudice, and the Ineffectiveness of a Bare Limiting Instruction

handle is hein.journals/amjtrad9 and id is 31 raw text is: Joint Trials, Spillover Prejudice,
and the Ineffectiveness of a
Bare Limiting Instruction
Robert R. Calot
1. Introduction
This article deals with jury prejudice. In general, certain jury prej-
udices flow from the joinder of defendants in a criminal trial; such
prejudices may preclude the jury from making individualized deter-
minations of guilt or innocence for each defendant. Specifically,
the jury may irrationally misapply the evidence in two ways. First, the
jury may be so confused as to the complexity of its multi-defendant
case that it may apply evidence to one defendant that is admissible
only against another defendant (jury confusion). Second, even if the
jury fully understands what evidence is admissible against whom, it
may nevertheless convict a defendant because of his connection at the
same trial with a guilty defendant (guilt by association).'
Historically, courts have sought to negate these prejudices by using
a limiting instruction-an admonishment to the jury to judge each
defendant's fate solely upon the evidence admissible against that person.
However, as will be demonstrated, this judicial remedy has not proven
effective. Therefore, to comport with the constitutional requirement of
a fair trial, the courts must adopt other, more effective devices. First,
the courts should use multiple juries. Second, the courts should modify
the system for allocating peremptory challenges. Third, jurors should be
allowed to take notes. Finally, the quality and presentation of the limiting
instruction should be improved. The examination will begin with the
Supreme Court's most prolific opinion on joint trial and limiting instruc-
tions: Bruton v. United States.2
t B.S. (1981), Bryant College; J.D. (1985), Boston University School of Law. Mr.
Calo is currently clerking for Federal District Court Judge Francis W. Wheelan in the
Central District of California (Los Angeles). The author wishes to express his gratitude
to Nancy Gertner, Esq., Alina Wagner, and Ann Marie Barrile for their assistance. The
views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed
to any other person.
I. Both of these phenomena can and will be referred to as spillover prejudice.
2. 391 U.S. 123, 88 S. Ct. 1620, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1968).

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