Division III Court Procedures


The purpose of these rules is to allow trials to be conducted efficiently with consideration that jurors’ time should not be wasted while issues are resolved by the Court and the parties. Since the Criminal Court divisions differ somewhat in what procedures are used in jury trials, please familiarize yourself with the following procedures used in Division III.

1. Prior to voir dire counsel is to provide the court with a written list of potential witnesses and a brief written statement of the facts agreed to by both parties. Parties are to notify the court of the approximate length of the trial.

2. Any known evidentiary issues must be discussed prior to trial. Any evidentiary issues requiring testimony (such as motions to suppress or motions made pursuant to T.R.E. 404(b), 405(a), 412, 608(b), or 609) must be filed in accordance with the pre-trial order or Trial Date Certificate, but in no event less than 14 days prior to trial.

3. If the defendant intends to waive the jury imposing the fine in the event of a conviction, complete the written waiver prior to the voir dire process.

4. Lengthy “Jencks” material such as audio and video recordings should be made available to opposing counsel prior to trial (Tenn. R. Crim. P. 26.2). Copies of transcripts, redacted and unredacted, should be made available to the Court for review prior to trial. Any issues must be resolved no less than 10 days prior to trial. (L.R. 10.03).

5. If counsel intends to use the audio video presenter, inform the Court prior to trial and alert the court officers before using the technology at trial, so that they may set it up. It is the responsibility of counsel to familiarize him/herself with the technology available via the courtroom audio video presenter cart.

6. For trial, use the podium next to the jury box. The microphone for the recorder is at the podium, so it is essential
to speak at the podium in order for there to be an accurate record. For voir dire, a podium will be placed in front of the jury box.

7. During the voir dire process, address your questions only to the jurors seated in the jury box. Once you have addressed the first group in the box, only address the newly seated jurors who replace the excused jurors. Of course, you may use your preemptory challenges against any juror until your challenges are exhausted.

8. During the voir dire process do not repeat questions covered by the court. Do not repeat questions previously asked by opposing counsel. Ask only questions which are related to a juror’s qualification and relevant to the case on trial. Refrain from asking open-ended questions such as “how did you feel when you came today,” “what do you think should be done to prevent crime,” etc. Do not ask potential jurors the verdict rendered in other cases on which they have served. When possible, direct questions to the entire panel as a group rather than individually. Counsel may not engage in efforts to indoctrinate jurors or argue the case in any way while questioning the jurors.

9. Counsel admitting documentary evidence which he/she wants the jury to read shall provide a sufficient number of copies to enable each juror to have his/her own plus one copy for the court and court reporter. All electronic evidence must be formatted to be playable on the courthouse audiovisual equipment.

10. Counsel wishing to introduce a diagram or drawing with a witness shall prepare the diagram or drawing prior to trial or at a recess or break prior to the testimony.

11. Counsel is not to refer to any witness or defendant by their first name except in limited circumstances where it has been pre-approved by the Court.

12. If you plan to introduce evidence under T.R.E. 404(b), 405(a), 608(b), or 609, obtain permission from the judge beforehand, out of the presence of the jury. Evidence requiring testimony must have been resolved prior to trial as set forth in Rule 2 above.

13. The reasons for objections and responses to objections should be made at the bench and out of the hearing of the jury. One word objections (i.e., “hearsay,” “leading”) or simple citation to the T.R.E. rule number are acceptable.

14. Opening statements should last no longer than 10 minutes per side for misdemeanor cases and 20 minutes per side for felony cases.

15. Closing arguments should last no longer than 15 minutes per side in misdemeanor cases; 30 minutes per side
in felony cases. Time may be extended depending on the complexity of the case with permission of the Judge.

Criminal Court of Davidson County Division III Dress CodeAll individuals entering the courtroom shall be dressed appropriately, clean and neat. Dress, which is disturbing and distracting in court is inappropriate. Clothes and appearance must be safe and not disruptive to the judicial process. Remember you are appearing in a court of law.

1. Skirts, skorts, and shorts must reach and extend below the fingertip.

2. All pants must be worn at waist. No sagging or low riding.

3. Undershirts and tank tops, if worn, must be worn with another “cover-up”shirt. Shoulders, backs, chests, and midriffs must be covered.

4. No see-through type or suggestive clothing is to be worn. Undergarments may not be visible.

5. All shirts, with the exception of sweaters, sweatshirts, or vests must be tucked into pants, skirts, or shorts, including athletic jerseys.

6. Appropriate footwear must be worn at all times. No flip-flops or house shoes permitted.

7. Inappropriate head coverings such as bandanas, scarves, sweatbands, hats/caps, do-rags, or hairnets are not to be worn or seen. Hoods on lightweight garments or sweatshirts may not be pulled over the head. Sunglasses shall be removed in court.

8. Clothing that advertises substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco products) or language or writing that is otherwise inappropriate or offensive (sex, profanity, racial or ethnic slurs, gang-related attire, etc.) may not be worn. Tattoos that display drugs, sex, alcohol, or tobacco products must not be seen at anytime.

9. Clothing that is intentionally torn in inappropriate places is prohibited.

10.For security reasons, chains, spiked accessories, and oversized jewelry are not permissible.

The Court reserves the right to modify this policy as necessary and reserve the right to determine what might be disruptive and unsafe.

If you are dressed in violation of this policy, you will not be permitted in the Division III courtroom or will be requested to leave.

Effective July 1, 2007.

The above guidelines are drawn from the Metropolitan Nashville Public School Dress Code (Policy 1737).