Supreme Court to Hear Cases at Lipscomb University for Volunteer Girls State

May 30, 2018

Lipscomb University will host the Tennessee Supreme Court this week as part of the American Legion Auxiliary’s Volunteer Girls State program, which provides Tennessee’s high school female leaders the opportunity to experience and learn about civic engagement.  On Thursday morning, the Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for two cases before the Girls State participants.  The program participants receive study materials to learn in-depth details about the cases.  Following oral arguments, the students will participate in a Q&A session with the attorneys who argued the cases.

The Tennessee Supreme Court oral arguments are just one part of the weeklong program that provides a first-hand glimpse into how our government operates in Tennessee.  The program allows student delegates to elect leaders and conduct legislative sessions, all the while emphasizing the importance of citizenship and collaboration.  In addition to learning about the judicial process and studying the cases heard before the Court, they also will hear from a number of other elected officials in Tennessee.

Oral arguments begin at 8:30 a.m. in A.M. Burton Health Sciences Center on Lipscomb’s campus for the following cases:

State of Tennessee v. Henry Lee Jones– The Supreme Court is reviewing a death penalty case in which Henry Lee Jones was sentenced to death for the premeditated murder of two individuals, Clarence and Lillian James.  The Court will consider multiple issues, including, whether the defendant was unconstitutionally denied the right to counsel, whether the trial court properly admitted the former testimony of a witness upon a determination that the witness was “unavailable,” whether the evidence introduced at trial was sufficient to convict the defendant, and whether the death penalty is appropriate in this case.

Frederick Copeland v. HealthSouth/Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital, L.P., Et Al. – This case involves a plaintiff who was injured while being transported by MedicOne, a company that provides transportation to and from medical facilities.  MedicOne transported the plaintiff to a doctor’s appointment without injury, but upon the plaintiff’s re-entry into the van, he fell and allegedly suffered an injury.  Prior to transportation with MedicOne, the plaintiff was required to sign a transportation agreement, which included an exculpatory clause absolving MedicOne of liability for any negligent conduct.  On appeal before the Supreme Court, the plaintiff argues that the exculpatory clause should be unenforceable as contrary to public policy. 

The Court also will hear three cases later on Thursday at the Supreme Court Building in Nashville.  Oral arguments for the following cases will begin at 1:30 p.m.:

State v. Decosimo – This case is before the Courton a certified question that was reserved when the defendant entered a no contest guilty plea to driving under the influence per se.  The defendant had consented to a blood test at the time of her arrest, which revealed that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.16%.  The certified question challenges Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-413(f) as violating the defendant’s constitutional right to due process and a fair trial.  Section 55-10-413(f) provides that, in addition to other fines, a blood alcohol test fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) shall be assessed upon a conviction for DUI and paid directly to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who conducts the test.  The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that section 55-10-413(f) violated due process under the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions.  On appeal before the Supreme Court, the State argues that the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in holding section 55-10-413(f) unconstitutional.

State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Williams– In this case, a jury convicted the defendant of one count of aggravated assault.  Prior to the verdict being returned, but after closing arguments, the State filed a Notice of Intent to Seek Enhanced Punishment.  The defendant received a fifteen-year sentence as a career offender.  Before the Tennessee Supreme Court, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to convict him of aggravated assault.  Additionally, the defendant argues that the State’s Notice of Intent to Seek Enhanced Punishment was not filed in a timely manner sufficient to give the defendant proper notice of the State’s intent to seek an enhanced punishment.  The State argues, however, that because the State had filed a Notice of Intent to Seek Enhanced Punishment against the defendant in a separate case, the defendant had constructive notice of the State’s intent to sentence the defendant as a career offender in the present case.

State of Tennessee v. Charlotte Frazier & Andrea Parks – This case is before the Supreme Court upon an interlocutory appeal.  The case involves the searches of two residences pursuant to search warrants issued by a judge from a different judicial district.  The first issue before the Court is whether the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and Tennessee statutory law authorize a circuit court judge to issue a warrant to search property located outside that judge’s assigned judicial district.  If the search warrant in this case was obtained in error, the State’s second issue considers whether the error is subject to a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. 

Read more about the Tennessee Supreme Court here. Learn more about Volunteer Girls State on their website.