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Plain-Error Rule

The principle that an appeals court can reverse a judgment and order a new trial because of a serious mistake in the proceedings, even though no objection was made at the time the mistake occurred.

The issuance of inconsistent instructions to a jury that would result in a miscarriage of justice, for example, can furnish the basis for a new trial, even though no timely and proper objection to the instructions was made. Although a person is entitled to a fair trial, he or she is not entitled to a flawless one; the individual does not have the right to a new trial merely because a HARMLESS ERROR has been committed.

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