Curative and Cautionary Instructions

In jury trials, attorneys will sometimes push the envelope and saying something legally improper that should not be considered by a jury. It is not uncommon for the judge to issue a curative or cautionary instruction asking the jury to disregard the objectional material.

Cautionary or curative instructions are accepted and well-respected in Missouri. French v. Missouri Highway & Transp. Comm’n., 908 S.W.2d 146, 152 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995). The trial court has discretion to determine whether a cautionary instruction should be given and to determine the proper kind. Morris v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., 173 S.W.2d 39, 42 (Mo. 1943). On appeal, therefore, an appellate court will not interfere with a trial court’s decision regarding a curative/cautionary instruction unless there was an abuse of discretion. West v. St. Louis Public Service Co., 236 S.W.2d 308, 313 (Mo. 1951).

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