Jury Selection – Death Qualification

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

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court 


State of Tennessee v. Miller,  No. W2019-00197-SC-DDT-DD  (Tenn. Dec. 7, 2021).

We believe that abuse of discretion is the appropriate standard of review of a trial court’s decision concerning a juror’s “death qualification.” … Trial judges base their decisions on a full view of the potential jurors’ responses to questions during voir dire, including the jurors’ facial expressions, degree of candor, and overall demeanor. A trial judge’s decision as to a challenge for cause should be reversed only when the judge abuses his or her discretion—a standard that appellate courts are very familiar with in criminal cases. “A court abuses its discretion when it causes an injustice to the party challenging the decision by (1) applying an incorrect legal standard, (2) reaching an illogical or unreasonable decision, or (3) basing its decision on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence.” Lee Med., Inc. v. Beecher, 312 S.W.3d 515, 524 (Tenn. 2010). In State v. McCaleb, this Court

emphasize[d] that the abuse of discretion standard of review does not permit an appellate court to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court. State v. Harbison, 539 S.W.3d 149, 159 (Tenn. 2018). Rather, “[b]ecause, by their very nature, discretionary decisions involve a choice among acceptable alternatives, reviewing courts will not second-guess a trial court’s exercise of its discretion simply because the trial court chose an alternative that the appellate courts would not have chosen.” White v. Vanderbilt Univ., 21 S.W.3d 215, 223 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999). Accordingly, if the reviewing court determines that “reasonable minds can disagree with the propriety of the decision,” the decision should be affirmed. Harbison, 539 S.W.3d at 159.

State v. McCaleb, 582 S.W.3d 179, 186 (Tenn. 2019) (second alteration in original) (footnote omitted).


Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals


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