A trial court judge’s authority to act as an all-powerful “13th juror” should be treated with high deference by appellate courts and the resulting decision overturned only in the rarest of cases, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

“The trial court sits much closer to the evidence than an appellate court,” Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the unanimous court. “The trial court, therefore, is in the best position to assess the reliability of a jury’s verdict, and, to this end, the Legislature has granted trial courts broad discretion to order new trials.”

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