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Court: Transcript gap not reason to order retrial

Associated Press
Published March 3, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - A computer crash that erased part of a trial transcript is insufficient reason to order a new trial in a criminal case, a sharply divided Florida Supreme Court decided Thursday.

The 4-3 decision upheld Cedrick Jones' convictions in Broward County on two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one of resisting arrest without violence.

Jones still must provide sufficient proof to demonstrate reversible error in his trial although a court reporter was unable to provide a full transcript of what happened, the majority concluded. All Jones could offer was a vague recollection that his lawyer had objected to striking a juror based on race. His lawyer was unable to recall such a challenge and the prosecutor testified that the only juror challenges were for other reasons.

"Jones' present assertion is based on pure conjecture and his memory of possible objections," Justice Charles Wells wrote for the court. "... Reversible error cannot be predicated on mere conjecture."

In dissent, Chief Justice Barbara Pariente argued that Jones was being denied his right to a meaningful appeal through no fault of his own.

[Last modified March 3, 2006, 02:15:34]

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