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error that is not sufficiently prejudicial to the losing party in a lawsuit to warrant the appellate court’s modifying the lower court’s decision. A conclusion that an error is harmless reflects the reviewing court’s determination that the lower court’s decision would have been the same with or without the purported error.
The confession of two codefendants are improperly introduced at Vic’s trial. An appellate court may find that the violation was merely harmless error and does not require a new trial for Vic if the confessions had little or no effect upon the jury’s determination of Vic’s guilt.
Compare plain error.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016