Separate Trials – Mandamus Procedure

Ex parte Tiffina McQueen, [Ms. 1200594, Oct. 29, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Wise, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Bolin, Sellers, Mendheim, and Stewart, JJ., concur in the result) issues a writ of mandamus directing the Montgomery Circuit Court to vacate its order providing that Tiffina McQueen’s compulsory counterclaims would be tried separately from the claims raised by Plaintiff Yukita A. Johnson. The Court holds that “[n]othing in the facts before this Court demonstrates that separate trials on the claims in Johnson’s complaint and the claims in the counterclaim would further the convenience of the parties, would avoid prejudice to the parties, or would be ‘conducive to expedition and economy.’ Rule 42(b). Accordingly, the trial court exceeded its discretion when it ordered separate trials in this case.” Ms. *13.

The Court also refused to consider Johnson’s arguments based on matters raised in Johnson’s Reply to the Counterclaim that was not filed before entry of the order requiring separate trials. The Court reiterates

“This Court has repeatedly recognized that in ‘mandamus proceedings, “[t]his Court does not review evidence presented for the first time”’ in a mandamus petition. [Ex parte] Ebbers, 871 So. 2d [776,] 794 [(Ala. 2003)] (quoting Ex parte Ephraim, 806 So. 2d 352, 357 (Ala. 2001)). In reviewing a mandamus petition, this Court considers ‘only those facts before the trial court.’ Ex parte Ford Motor Credit Co., 772 So. 2d 437, 442 (Ala. 2000). Further, in ruling on a mandamus petition, we will not consider ‘evidence in a party’s brief that was not before the trial court.’ Ex parte Pike Fabrication, Inc., 859 So. 2d 1089, 1091 (Ala. 2002).” Ex parte McDaniel, 291 So. 3d 847, 852 (Ala. 2019). Because Johnson’s reply to the petitioner’s counterclaim was not filed before the trial court entered its order directing separate trials, we will not consider that reply.

Ms. *12, n. 3.

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