Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

February 2002


Published in Law and Human Behavior, 26:1 (February 2002), pp. 3–17. Copyright © 2002 American Psychology-Law Society, Division 41 of the American Psychology Association. Published by Springer Netherlands. Used by permission.


Published pretrial publicity (PTP) research has been conducted almost exclusively with criminal cases and has focused on PTP that is detrimental to the defense. The current research examined the effects of PTP in a civil case to determine if PTP can have a biasing effect against either the defendant or the plaintiff in civil litigation. In Experiment 1, participants exposed to PTP biased against the defendant were more likely to reach a liable verdict than participants who read a control article or PTP biased against the plaintiff. Experiment 2 demonstrated that a judicial admonition did not reduce the biasing effect of PTP about a civil defendant. However, participants given the admonition both before and after the trial evidence viewed the defendant as less culpable than participants given the admonition after the trial only or not at all. The implications for the legal system are discussed.