There are a lot of things is jury is not allowed to be told about in a civil case:

1. That the defendant has liabilty insurance (The argument is that a jury will be more likely to be sympathetic to the plaintiff if it knows an insurance company will bear the loss. This is based on speculation, not proof.  Even when the jury KNOWS a deep pocket defendant like WalMart is well able to pay damages, a jury will often find for the defense.)

2.  That the defendant got a traffic ticket. (The thinking in favor of this stupid rule is that the cop who issued the ticket was basing the ticket on his opinion of who was at fault, often when he did not witness any wrongdoing.  So, the ticket is based on a witness who was not a “witness.”  Wouldn’t it be better to just tell the jury a ticket was or was not issued but they are to ignore that fact?  I have had multiple trials where the jury was angry because it was not told by me about the ticket!)

3. That one of the co defendants settled with the Plaintiff. (There is a strong policy in favor of encouraging settlements.  If settlement negotiations were allowed to be considered by a jury it might defeat possible negotiations.)

4.  That the amount of the jury personal injury verdict for the plaintiff is not taxable. (This is true, but might cause a jury to award less if it knew the award was not taxable)

5. That the Defendant in a premises liability case cleaned up or fixed up the accident scene. (The argument is that unsafe conditions should be remedied as soon as possible.  If a clean up or other action is taken to remedy the danger, it should not be held against the party because it would discourage rather than encourage safety measures.)

6. In a medical malpractice case,that the health care provider charged with negligence has been guilty of malpractice on previous occasions. ( This is a reflection of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness,  favoring redemption and second chances.  Also, just because the doctor messed up one one patient does not prove he will do so again.)

7. That the plaintiff has a criminal record (unless the record is recent).(Again, this is part of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness.)

8. That settlement offers have been made and rejected.(See #3 above)

9.  That part of the verdict for the plaintiff will have to be used to reimburse the plaintiff’s  health insurance company. (This is based on the theory that a jury is better off not messing with anything having to do with set offs/credits for insurance payments, because the Court will do so after trial.)

What a mess!  It is not hard to understand why lay persons are leery of courts and attorneys.  

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