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. Strange, No. E2021-00763-CCA-R3-CD, p. 15 (June 27, 2022).
When a defendant challenges the impartiality of the empaneled jury based on the trial court’s failure to strike a potential juror for cause, he must establish that he “exhaust[ed] all of his peremptory challenges and [that] an incompetent juror [wa]s forced upon him.” Howell, 868 S.W.2d at 248 (citing Ross v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 81, 89 (1988); State v. Jones, 789 S.W.2d 545, 549 (Tenn. 1990)). “As long as the jury that sits is impartial, the denial or impairment of the right to exercise peremptory challenges does not violate the Sixth Amendment.” Id.
State v. Newson, No. M2021-00444-CCA-R3-CD, p. 21 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. June 23, 2022).
A defendant’s right to an impartial jury is guaranteed by both the United States and the Tennessee Constitutions. U.S. Const. amend. VI; Tenn. Const. art. I, § 9. “‘The impartial jury guaranteed by constitutional provisions is one which is of impartial frame of mind at the beginning of trial, is influenced only by legal and competent evidence produced during trial, and bases its verdict upon evidence connecting defendant with the commission of the crime charged.’” State v. Hugueley, 185 S.W. 3d 356, 377-78 (Tenn. 2006) (quoting State v. Lawson, 794 S.W.2d 363, 367 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990)). “The ultimate goal of voir dire is to see that jurors are competent, unbiased, and impartial.” State v. Howell, 868 S.W. 2d 238, 247 (Tenn. 1993). We review a trial court’s decisions regarding voir dire and the qualifications of jurors under an abuse of discretion standard. See id. at 248 (concluding that “trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow individual voir dire of prospective jurors with respect to the content of pretrial news reports to which they had been exposed.”).
State of Tennessee v. Smith, No. M2020-01263-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 10, 2022)
A trial court’s determination as to the impartiality of a prospective juror can be overturned only if there has been an abuse of discretion. State v. Kilburn, 782 S.W.2d 199, 203 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1989). “A trial court abuses its discretion when it applies incorrect legal standards, reaches an illogical conclusion, bases its decision on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or employs reasoning that causes an injustice to the complaining party.” State v. Scott, 275 S.W.3d 395, 404-05 (Tenn. 2009). In order to prevail on a challenge of this nature, the defendant must demonstrate not only that a juror should have been removed for cause, but that he had exhausted all of his peremptory challenges. See Howell, 868 S.W.2d at 248.