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The post below was published on Thursday, September 9th, 2010 at 5:30 AM.

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Fourth District: Dear Prudence

The sun is up.
The sky is blue.
Juror used a smartphone?
New trial for you.

Long time readers of this site know I enjoy slipping in Beatles references from time to time, and this fan could hardly pass up paraphrasing Lennon’s wake up call to Prudence Farrow after reading this decision from the Fourth District.

The court ordered a new trial for a criminal defendant, reversing a trial court’s contrary decision, because a juror used a smartphone to look up “prudent” or “prudence” online and discussed his findings with other jurors during deliberations.

The prudence of the defendant’s conduct was an issue in the case. Ultimately, the court relied on the principle that juror misconduct requires a new trial unless the party opposing the motion shows there was no reasonable possibility the conduct affected the verdict. There is no doubt that the juror’s acts constituted misconduct.

Notably, the court did not discuss the state’s position or how the contents of the online definitions could have affected the verdict.

The appellate court did mention that the juror used Encarta as his online dictionary of choice. So, presumably the juror saw this page, which is the result whether one looks up prudent or prudence.

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