Sever Defendants, Motion to

Except as 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

Coley v. State, No. M2021-01243-CCA-R3-PC, p. 13 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 29, 2022).

The decision as to whether or not to grant a severance is left to the sound discretion of the trial judge, and this decision will not be disturbed unless the defendant is unfairly or unduly prejudiced. State v. Maddox, 957 S.W.2d 547, 556 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997) (citing State v. Coleman, 619 S.W.2d 112, 116 (Tenn. 1981); State v. Woods, 806 S.W.2d 205, 211 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990); State v. Kyger, 787 S.W.2d 13, 20 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1989);State v. Hodgkinson,778 S.W.2d 54, 61 (Tenn. Crim. App.1989);State v. Wiseman, 643 S.W.2d 354, 362 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1982)).

State of Tennessee v. Roby, Jr. and Allen, No. M2020-00301-CCA-R3-CD, p. 18 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. May 23, 2022).

“When two or more defendants are charged in the same indictment, evidence that is not necessarily applicable to another defendant may be admissible against one or more defendants.” Id. at 159 (citing State v. Meeks, 867 S.W.2d 261, 369 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1993)). Additionally, the introduction of “damaging proof” against one defendant does not mandate severance. Id. As our supreme court has explained,

There is no bright-line rule as to when a trial court should grant a defendant’s request for severance. Courts consider the following factors, none of which are dispositive, when deciding whether to grant a severance: the number of defendants named in the indictment, the number of counts charged in the indictment, the complexity of the indictment, the estimated length of the trial, the disparities in the evidence offered against the defendants, the disparities in the degrees of involvement by the defendants in the charged offenses, possible conflicts between the defendants and their strategies, and prejudice from evidence admitted against a co-defendant(s) which is inadmissible or excluded as to another defendant. See United States v. Gallo, 668 F. Supp. 736, 749 (E.D.N.Y. 1987).

Id. The denial of a severance motion is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard, and this court will not find an abuse of discretion unless the denial of the motion re- sulted in clear prejudice to the defendant. Id.


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