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Vinny: Uh... Everything that guy just said is bullshit...Thank you.Judge: The jury will kindly disregard the defendant's entire opening statement, with the exception of "Thank you."
A kind of Courtroom Antic where the lawyer asks or says something totally inappropriate to the rules of the courtroom in order to get the jury to think of something a certain way. A classic example is, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
Naturally, the opposing lawyer will object, and then the Judge will say, without fail; "The members of the jury are instructed to disregard that statement." Original lawyer smirks because apparently only he realizes that people cannot voluntarily induce amnesia. If he's really being smug, he'll withdraw the statement before the other lawyer can finish objecting.
In the real world, this is a good way to lose the right to practice law; never mind using it as a common tactic. Lawyers refer to this method as "ringing the bell," because you can't un-ring a bell.
- In one Mad Magazine issue where they examined the legal system, the prosecutor asks the defendant "Did you kill [victim]?" and the defendant replies that he did. The defense attorney immediately objects on the grounds that the prosecution is leading the witness, and the judge has the statement stricken from the record. They get an acquittal.
- Also an instance of You Fail Law Forever, since the only time the prosecution would be asking the defendant questions would be on cross-examination, where leading questions are allowed.
- Lampshaded in Anatomy of a Murder, when Jimmy Stewart's client directly asks him how the jury can just choose to forget an "inappropriate" question, and Jimmy casually admits they can't.
- Chicago: Billy Flynn goes off on a (seemingly) wild rant while cross-examining the Surprise Witness about Roxie's diary, where he flat-out accuses the District Attorney of planting evidence. (Of course, he phrases it as hypothetical question, so in movie-land he doesn't get disbarred.)
- In The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the defendant's lawyer grills a doctor Emily's diagnosis, culminating in the question "So aren't you electively choosing what parts of Emily's experiences fit your epilepsy diagnosis while ignoring those which indicate something else?" The prosecutor immediately jumps in with his objection, where the defense lawyer calmly withdraws her statement. As the lawyer's withdraws her statement, she gives absolutely no outward sign that she's feeling smug, but you can just feel it.
- The above quote from the movie My Cousin Vinny.
- Although (1) Jim Trotter doesn't ask the jury to disregard the statement himself (he merely makes the accurate objection that "the counselor's entire opening statement was argument"), and (2) that's just about the only time in the film Judge Haller is lenient on Vinny. (Well, there is another time that Vinny curses and gets away with it but that's because the judge isn't sure he did it since Vinny was muttering to himself.) As Vinny puts it, the guy is "just aching to throw him in jail."
- As a side note, Vinny didn't have to say anything at that point: Defense attorneys have the choice to withhold their opening statement until their case-in-chief.
- Used by Jake Bergance in A Time to Kill. He asks one of the victims' mother how many times he has kidnapped a young girl, to which the D.A. responds, "OBJECTION YOUR HONOR OBJECTION." The judge tells the jury to disregard it and Jake just continues on, asking how many times he had raped a young girl.
- Al Pacino's opening statement in And Justice for All repeatedly brings up the (inadmissible in court) fact that his client passed the polygraph test. It hardly matters, considering that he finishes his statement by revealing that his client is completely guilty.
- Jim Carrey's character in Liar Liar ends up using these tactics against his own witness unintentionally when he realizes the power keeping him from lying apparently also prevents him from helping other people lie. He eventually manages to win the case, a divorce settlement with a prenup agreement, by invoking a legitimate use of the Off on a Technicality trope and proving his client had been 17 when she signed the agreement, meaning she didn't have the legal authority to do so without one of her parents cosigning and the prenup was void.
- Intolerable Cruelty does this brilliantly; a witness gushes an endless stream of incredibly incriminating testimony that could easily get the case thrown out. The other side's attorney responds with "OBJECTION! IRRELEVANT!"
- Also hilariously: "Objection! Strangling the witness!"
Live Action Television
- Used by a rival lawyer in Shark, with incriminating photographs.
- Happens all the time in Law and Order.
- Particularly blatant example in an episode where Jack McCoy is cross-examining an expert witness testifying on the mental disorder of the defendant. He gets her to admit she is not a licensed psychologist but instead hosts a radio show that discusses this disorder among others.
McCoy: So in other words, you're not a psychologist but you play one on the radio?
Defense Attorney: Objection! Prosecution is mocking the witness!
McCoy: (Beat) Yes I am.
- Strangely enough, since he's discrediting the witness with her own testimony, this is perfectly legal. Except for the mocking part.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer Alan Shore does this about six times an episode in Boston Legal. Although he seems to be very aware of its ridiculousness.
- In Bones, the episode "The Girl in the Fridge" features a trial and how the evidence is perceived. Both Booth and Brennan's old professor, working for the other side, throw in personal commentary and opinions, shaping the jury's opinions, objected to by the lawyers, and the judge uses this statement liberally. But of course, can't change the jury's having heard their bias.
- This gets an extra turn when the prosecution asks Brennan about her past, and when the defense objects the prosecution gets it overruled by pointing out that the defense's witness brought it up. The problem there is that the prosecution successfully objected when he did so, and that testimony would have been struck. Leading to the bizarre situation of them using something they kept out of evidence to put something into evidence...
- Subverted in Harry's Law in that the eponymous character's use of this technique in one episode causes a mistrial and almost gets her disbarred.
- At least once on Matlock, after Matlock's Courtroom Antics, when the judge ordered the jury to disregard his statement. Matlock muttered under his breath, "Like hell they will."
- In Murder One, the prosecutor brings up the defendant's previous visit to a sex shop where he examined sadistic looking wrist restraints, and holds up a pair for the witness to identify. The defense objects that there's no evidence that any restraints were used in the murder, but we're left to surmise that the purpose of this tangent was simply for the jury to see the restraints, and see the defendant as the kind of person who would use them.
- In Community Basic Lupine Urology Annie and Lt. Colonel Archwood do this by making a wildly loaded question then saying "withdrawn", using this to call someone respectively a wife-beating, drug-using virgin, and a Holocaust-denying, 9/11 pedophile. They get away this this because they aren't really in a courtroom, but rather a bizarre faux-trial presided over by the biology teacher to determine who ruined a school project.
- Pulled at least once in The Ace Attorney games, when Franziska von Karma shows off an illegally acquired photograph, not as formal evidence (since that would ruin her Perfect Record, after all), but just to give the judge and audience something to think about. Too bad for her the implications fly completely over the Judge's head.
- Pulled in a Kangaroo Court in Looking for Group, when the prosecutor brings up Richard saving the life of a small child (it is a trial of demons, after all), then immediately withdraws the question.
- Parodied in Futurama, where the jury (a DOOP war-crimes tribunal) were all witnesses (to the destruction of DOOP headquarters). The rival lawyer asks the jury to point out the person they saw committing the act, and are told by the judge to disregard their own statements.
- Hilariously parodied in Batman: The Animated Series, where Batman is being held on trial by a Joker Jury.
Mad Hatter: Your Honor, I would like that last outburst stricken from the record.
Judge Joker: Record? Is someone supposed to be writing this down?