Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Challenge to Electrocution, Six Other Cases

May 1, 2015

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week regarding whether a death row inmate can properly challenge the constitutionality of electrocution as a possible method of execution.

The Court will consider only one issue of many that are part of a lawsuit by 34 death row inmates challenging Tennessee’s death penalty protocol. The electrocution issue is before the Supreme Court as an interlocutory appeal – that is an appeal of only part of a case that is continuing in a lower court.

The Court agreed to hear the State’s request to dismiss the plaintiffs’ challenge to electrocution as a method of execution. The State asserts that none of the plaintiffs are currently subject to execution by electrocution, making their challenges unready for litigation at this time.

Although there has not been a final decision in the case at the trial court level, some elements of the lawsuit have already been reviewed by the Supreme Court. In addition to hearing this claim regarding electrocution, the Supreme Court ruled in March that the state was not required to release to the plaintiffs the names of those involved in carrying out an execution in Tennessee.

The Schofield case is among seven cases in which the Court will hear oral arguments in Knoxville on May 5 and 6. The others are:

  • State v. Terence Justin Feaster –The defendant was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault of a Knox County woman in May 2010. The Court will consider if the convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault should have been merged, which could have an impact on the length of the sentence.
  • Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Carlton J. Ditto, et al. –This is a dispute over property purchased at a tax sale by Mr. Ditto. Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems was not notified of the pending sale of the property and asserts that it should have received notice in order to defend its interest in the property.
  • Clayton Arden v. Kenya I. Kozawa, M.D., et al. –This health care liability lawsuit was dismissed by the trial court for lack of proper pre-suit notice to the defendants because it was by private delivery service and not U.S. mail. The Court will consider whether the service was in compliance with the law.
  • David G. Young v. City of LaFollette, et al. –The former city administrator of LaFollette sued the city for retaliatory discharge. He requested a jury trial, which the city objected to, citing the law controlling suits against governmental entities. The Court will decide whether that law is applicable to Mr. Young’s particular claim.
  • Arthur B. Roberts, et al. v. Robert Bailey, et al. – This appeal of a property dispute involves a grant of land made in 1918. The Court will determine who has rights to the 58 acres of property in Loudon County.
  • First Community Bank, N.A. v. First Tennessee Bank, N.A., et al. –This action was brought by First Community Bank after it lost more than $100,000,000 following the purchase of securities in 2006 and 2007. The Court will consider, among other things, whether the Tennessee trial court has jurisdiction over the defendants.