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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Oct 15, 2013

Head Comment: CORRECTION: On page 2 of the opinion, within the third line, ".9 millimeter" has been changed to "9 millimeter"

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Joan A. Lawson and J. Michael Engle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Darelle Smith.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Chris Buford and Katy Miller, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): KOCH

This appeal concerns the appropriate response when a trial court learns during a jury’s deliberations that a juror exchanged Facebook messages with one of the State’s witnesses during the trial. A criminal court in Davidson County declined the defendant’s request to hold a hearing to question the juror and the witness to ascertain whether the communications required a new trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the trial court had not erred by declining the defendant’s request for a hearing. State v. Smith, No. M2010-01384- CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 8502564 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 2, 2012). We disagree and, therefore, vacate the judgment and remand the case for a hearing consistent with this opinion.