Record in the Trial Court (Impact of Omissions)

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Smith, No. M2021-00547-CCA-R3-CD, p. 17  (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 25, 2022).

“When a party seeks appellate review there is a duty to prepare a record which conveys a fair, accurate and complete account of what transpired with respect to the issues forming the basis of the appeal.” State v. Ballard, 855 S.W.2d 557, 560 (Tenn. 1993). The failure to prepare an adequate record for appellate review results in waiver. Id. Thus, in the absence of a complete record, “the appellate court must conclusively presume that the ruling of the trial judge was correct.” State v. Draper, 800 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990).

State of Tennessee v. Johnson, No. W2019-01133-CCA-R3-CD, p. 11-12 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 18, 2022).

“[A]bsent extraordinary circumstances, an appellate court does not have the authority to refuse to consider matters that are determined by the trial court judge to be appropriately includable in the record.” Bradshaw v. Daniel, 854 S.W.2d 865, 869 (Tenn. 1993) (concluding that the appellate court erred in refusing to consider the transcript of the first trial when the trial court had considered that testimony in denying summary judgment). The “dual goals of avoiding technicality and expediting a just resolution of the case on its merits …. are achieved by according deference to the trial court’s decision as to which matters are properly includable in the record, thereby avoiding additional litigation on that subject alone.” Housler, 167 S.W.3d at 296. As we noted in our order remanding the case, the trial court is in the best position to determine which matters are “necessary to provide a fair, accurate, and complete account of the proceedings upon which the appeal is based.” Id.


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