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. Bryant, No. M2022-00260-CCA-R3-CD, p. 20 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. April 5, 2023).
A trial court’s decision to consolidate or sever offenses is discretionary and will only be reversed if discretion has been abused. State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 245-47 (Tenn. 1999); State v. Moore, 6 S.W.3d 235, 238 (Tenn. 1999). “[A] trial court’s refusal to sever offenses will be reversed only when the ‘court applied an incorrect legal standard, or reached a decision which is against logic or reasoning that caused an injustice to the party complaining.’” Spicer v. State, 12 S.W.3d 438, 442-43 (Tenn. 2000) (quoting State v. Shuck, 953 S.W.2d 662, 669 (Tenn. 1997)); see also Shirley, 6 S.W.3d at 247. Discretion is also abused when the trial court “failed to consider the relevant factors provided by higher courts as guidance for determining an issue.” State v. Garrett, 331 S.W.3d 392, 401 (Tenn. 2011) (citing State v. Lewis, 235 S.W.3d 136, 141 (Tenn. 2007)).
In determining whether discretion has been abused, our review of a severance ruling is confined to the evidence presented at the severance hearing, along with the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. Spicer, 12 S.W.3d at 445 (“because the trial court’s decision of whether to consolidate offenses is determined from the evidence presented at the hearing, appellate courts should usually only look to that evidence”); see also Shirley, 6 SW.3d at 247 (Supreme Court “closely examine[d]” proof at the severance hearing only where trial court held a hearing but failed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law); cf. Toliver, 331 S.W.3d at 404 (because trial court failed to hold a hearing, Supreme Court analyzed consolidation issue based on the evidence at trial).
State v. Gay, No. E2021-01418-CCA-R3-CD, p. 11 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 23, 2023).
On appeal, “decisions to consolidate or sever offenses pursuant to Rules 8(b) and 14(b)(1) are to be reviewed for an abuse of discretion.” State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 247 (Tenn. 1999).
State v. Eady, No. M2021-00388-CCA-R3-CD, p. 35-36 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Oct. 14, 2022).
This Court reviews a trial court’s decision to consolidate or sever offenses for an abuse of discretion. Spicer v. State, 12 S.W.3d 438, 444-45 (Tenn. 2000); State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 247 (Tenn. 1999), overruled on other grounds by State v. Copeland, 226 S.W.3d 287 (Tenn. 2007). Discretion is abused when the trial court applies incorrect legal standards, reaches an illogical conclusion, bases its ruling on a clearly erroneous assessment of the proof, or applies reasoning that causes an injustice to the complaining party. State v. Garrett, 331 S.W.3d 392, 401 (Tenn. 2011) (citing State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 39 (Tenn. 2010)). Discretion is also abused when the trial court “failed to consider the relevant factors provided by higher courts as guidance for determining an issue.” Garrett, 331 S.W.3d at 401 (citing State v. Lewis, 235 S.W.3d 136, 141 (Tenn. 2007)).
State of Tennessee v. Reynolds, Alias, No. E2021-00066-CCA-R3-CD, p. 8-9 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 31, 2022).
When reviewing a claim regarding the mandatory joinder provision of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a), this court is bound by the factual findings of the trial court unless the evidence preponderates against them, see State v. Baird, 88 S.W.3d 617, 620 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001), but we review “de novo with no presumption of correctness” the trial court’s application of the law to the facts, State v. Johnson, 342 S.W.3d 468, 471 (Tenn. 2011) (applying de novo review to the trial court’s “application of [Rule] 8 to the undisputed facts”); State v. Brandon Churchman, No. W2013-00175-CCA-R3-CD, slip op. at 9 (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Apr. 28, 2014).
State of Tennessee. v. Montella, No. M2020-00016-CCA-R3-CD, p. 7 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Apr. 7, 2022).
If a defendant seeks a severance of offenses that have been joined in the original indictment pursuant to Rule 8(b), he has the burden to assert his right to a severance pursuant to Rule 14(b)(1) or it will be waived. Spicer, 12 S.W.3d at 443. The trial court must grant the motion for a severance unless the offenses involve a common scheme or plan. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 14(b)(1). Permitting or denying a motion to sever is within the discretion of the trial court. State v. Meeks, 867 S.W.2d 361, 369 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1993); see State v. Coleman, 619 S.W.2d 112, 116 (Tenn. 1981). This court reviews a trial court’s decision to grant or to deny a motion to sever for an abuse of discretion. State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 247 (Tenn. 1999). An abuse of discretion occurs when a “trial court applie[s] an incorrect legal standard or reache[s] a decision against logic or reasoning which cause[s] an injustice to the complaining party.” Denton, 149 S.W.3d at 10 (citing Spicer, 12 S.W.3d at 442).