Tennessee Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments for April in Jackson

April 2, 2018

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear three cases on April 4, 2018, in Jackson, TN.  The details of the cases are as follows:  

  • Board of Professional Responsibility v. Larry Edward Parrish - In this attorney-discipline matter, the Court will consider the parameters of constitutional free speech protection within the context of an attorney’s statements to a court in written filings.  Attorney Parrish was publicly censured following statements he made in motions to recuse three judges on a panel of the Court of Appeals.  Mr. Parrish argues that this discipline violates his First Amendment rights and his free speech rights guaranteed by Article 1 § 19 of the Tennessee Constitution because the Board of Professional Responsibility failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the speech was false.  The Board argues that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution do not protect Attorney Parrish’s speech within this context.
  • State of Tennessee v. Jerome Antonio McElrath - The defendant in this case was arrested on a public housing property because the arresting officer believed the defendant to be on a “barred” list.  However, the defendant remained on the list only due to a clerical error.  The defendant was charged with possession of marijuana based on the discovery of marijuana in his clothes during the search incident to arrest. Essentially at issue is whether the Court should adopt the Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135 (2009), good-faith exception under state law. The United States Supreme Court in Herring held that a good-faith reliance on a clerical error did not require suppression of the evidence seized. The defendant argues that allowing the police to rely on a list the agency itself creates and maintains and then claim a good-faith exception after negligently maintaining that list creates a dangerous precedent. The State argues that the adoption of the Herring good-faith exception would confirm the balance between the deterrent purpose of the exclusionary rule and the social costs of suppressing evidence. 
  • David R. Smith v. The Tennessee National Guard - This case was continued from the Court’s February court session in Nashville.  The case stems from a 2011 lawsuit, in which the plaintiff claimed that the Tennessee National Guard violated his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The plaintiff’s case was dismissed because the Tennessee General Assembly had not waived sovereign immunity for USERRA claims.  Tennessee then later passed legislation that waived sovereign immunity for USERRA claims “accruing on or after July 1, 2014.” After unsuccessfully moving to reopen his case, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit, again alleging a violation of his USERRA rights.  On appeal from the trial court’s dismissal of his case, the plaintiff argues that the language in the new law waiving sovereign immunity applies to his 2011 claim.  Thus, the plaintiff asks this Court to determine whether the July 1, 2014 waiver of sovereign immunity retroactively applies to the plaintiff’s 2011 claim.

Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required request.