IPhone + Encarta = New Trial

September 20, 2010

A jury verdict was reversed earlier this month due to juror misconduct when the foreperson used his Iphone to look up the definition of “prudent” on Encarta during a break in the jury’s deliberations.  In Tapanes v. State, 42 So. 3d 159 (Fla 4 DCA 2010) the court wrote: “Although here we confront new frontiers in technology, that being the instant access to a dictionary by a smartphone, the conduct complained of by the appellant is not all novel or unusual. It has been a long-standing rule of law that jurors should not consider external information outside of the presence of the defendant, the state, and the trial court.”  The court cited earlier Florida cases holding that a dictionary is not one of the materials permitted to be taken into the jury room.  See, Smith v. State, 95 So. 2d 525 (Fla. 1957).