Videos From February Supreme Court Oral Arguments Available Online

February 11, 2019

Video recordings from oral argument held before the Tennessee Supreme Court in February are available online. This is the second time oral arguments have been video recorded and made available to the public.

“There has been too much mystique about the Supreme Court for too long,” Chief Justice Jeff Bivins said. “This Supreme Court is committed to openness and transparency so the public can see and understand the process and decisions we make.”

Tennessee Supreme Court oral arguments have always been open to the public, but few Tennesseans are able to make it to a court session live. The Supreme Court began posting audio recordings of oral arguments on its website in 2013.  The video will give lawyers, students, and others a more realistic feel of the interaction between the Court and attorneys during oral argument, which often includes unscripted questioning and debate.

The cases listed below were recorded and are available to view on the Oral Arugment Video webpage:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

TWB Architects, Inc. v. The Braxton, LLC, et al. - M2017-00423-SC-R11-CV

This case stems from a contractual dispute related to architectural design services.  The trial court originally granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, but the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision.  On remand, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff architect, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.  The defendants ask the Supreme Court to decide whether the trial court properly entered summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff.  Specifically, the defendants argue that the parties’ intent was a factual inquiry that must be resolved by a jury and that the trial court failed to consider the defendants’ evidence provided to contradict and challenge the credibility of the testimony presented by the plaintiff.  

State of Tennessee v. Leroy Myers, Jr. - M2015-01855-SC-R11-CD

This appeal arises from the defendant’s conviction of reckless endangerment following a bench trial.  The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that reckless endangerment is not a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault, the charged offense for which he was tried.  Additionally, the defendant argued that there was no amendment to the indictment to include reckless endangerment.  The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the Supreme Court granted and remanded the case to the Court of Criminal Appeals for the purpose of supplementing the record.  The Court of Criminal Appeals, upon remand and after supplementation of the record, again affirmed the judgment of the trial court.  The defendant appeals again to the Supreme Court.  The defendant contends that no effective amendment to the indictment occurred before the trial court.  The State counters that the defendant actively sought consideration of the offense of reckless endangerment.

Polly Spann Kershaw v. Jeffrey L. Levy - M2017-01129-SC-R11-CV

This case is a legal malpractice lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims she suffered financial harm and was convicted of criminal contempt as a result of the defendant’s negligent representation of the plaintiff in her divorce case.  The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred under the judicial estoppel doctrine.  The trial court granted summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  The plaintiff argues before the Supreme Court that the doctrine of judicial estoppel should not apply when the defendant’s own negligence caused the plaintiff to “settle in a compromised position.”

State of Tennessee v.Hassan Falah Al Mutory - M2017-00346-SC-R11-CD

In this case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of reckless homicide, for which he received a three-year sentence.  The defendant appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and oral argument was scheduled for November 14, 2017.  On November 6, 2017, counsel for the defendant filed a motion for abatement ab initio based on the defendant’s death.  The doctrine of abatement ab initio provides that a defendant’s conviction will be set aside if the defendant dies while a direct appeal is pending.  The State opposed the motion, arguing that the abatement doctrine is no longer viable in current Tennessee jurisprudence.  Following oral arguments on the motion, the Court of Criminal Appeals granted the defendant’s motion, and the Supreme Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal.  The issue raised by the State before the Court is whether Tennessee should abandon the abatement ab initio doctrine. 

Rhonda Willeford, et al. v. Timothy P. Klepper, MD, et al. v. State of Tennessee - M2016-01491-SC-R11-CV

This is the second time the Court will hear oral arguments on this particular case.  The case originally was heard January 10, 2018.  On August 15, 2018, the Court ordered additional briefing on two issues.  Following the additional briefing on these issues by both parties, the Court determined additional oral argument also was required and docketed the case once more. The first issue the parties will address is, if the Court invalidates Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(f), as the plaintiffs advocate, whether the Court should narrow its prior holding in Alsip v. Johnson City Medical Center, 197 S.W.3d 722, 723-24 (Tenn. 2006), to prohibit ex parte interviews with treating healthcare providers only where such an interview would risk disclosure of private healthcare information not subject to discovery.  Second, the Court requested the parties to address what procedure the Court should adopt for trial courts to utilize in the event the Court does invalidate Section 29-26-121(f) and narrow the holding in Alsip as described in the first issue, to allow such ex parte interviews in appropriate circumstances while also safeguarding patients’ private nondiscoverable health information.

Marcus Deangelo Lee v. State of Tennessee - W2015-02143-SC-WRM-CO

In this matter, the Court, based upon its supervisory authority, has ordered the Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk and other personnel to appear before the Court to explain the Clerk’s handling of the filings in the underlying case, as well as the Clerk’s practices and procedures for accepting pro se filings generally.  The Court previously had issued writs of mandamus requiring the Clerk to accept motions for filing from Mr. Lee.  On January 17, 2019, the Court issued two additional writs of mandamus.  One of the writs requires the Clerk to provide Mr. Lee with proof of an expunction, and the other requires the Clerk to accept a motion from Mr. Lee for filing.  On the same day that the Court issued these latest writs of mandamus, the Court also entered the order requiring the attendance of these individuals before the Court.