Control of Trial Proceedings Generally

Unless otherwise indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals

State v. Hite, No. W2022-00678-CCA-R3-CD, p. 26 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. July 19, 2023).

Court sessions at night are not per se improper. Hembree v. State, 546 S.W.2d 235, 243 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1976). However, “night sessions should be terminated at a more reasonable hour, absent consent of the parties and all members of the jury.” Id. This court has held that a jury’s listening to evidence until 1:00 a.m. in a serious criminal case, without reasonable cause, was not harmless error. Id. Likewise, this court has stated, “Jurors must also have the out of court time for sufficient rest and relaxation to be alert, comfortable and unhurried in the course of their deliberative function.” State v. McMullin, 801 S.W.2d 826, 827 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990). Ordinarily, we review a trial court’s decision to conduct late-night proceedings under an abuse of discretion standard. State v. Walls, 537 S.W.3d 892, 904-05 (Tenn. 2017). When the defendant fails to object, as the Defendant failed to do in this case, we review the issue for plain error. Id. at 900 (concluding that the defendant failure to object to the jury’s deliberating and returning a verdict at 1:05 a.m. waived the issue for plenary review).

State of Tennessee v. Moore, No. M2020-01147-CCA-R3-CD, p. 12 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 12, 2022).

Of course, a trial court has broad discretion in controlling the course of a trial. State v. Davidson, 509 S.W.3d 156, 193-94 (Tenn. 2016). Review of a trial court’s decisions is for abuse of discretion. Id. A trial court abuses its discretion when it applies an incorrect legal standard, reaches an illogical conclusion, bases a decision on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or uses reasoning that causes an injustice to the complaining party. State v. Davis, 466 S.W.3d 49, 61 (Tenn. 2015).


Grading Papers - Criminal Copyright © 2023 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works).. All Rights Reserved.