Tennessee Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments at Boys State in Cookeville

May 19, 2017

2017 marks the 17th year in a row that the Tennessee Supreme Court will hold oral arguments before high school students at American Legion Boys State. 

The Court session is just one element of week-long programs in which 600 students learn through firsthand experience how our government works.  Student delegates elect leaders, conduct legislative sessions, and have law enforcement presentations, assemblies, and recreational programs.  In addition to learning about the judicial process and studying the cases they will observe, they also hear from a number of other elected officials in Tennessee.

Tennessee American Legion Boys State is held in Cookeville at Tennessee Tech University. 

On May 24, 2017, Boys State delegates will observe oral arguments for the following two cases:

State of Tennessee v. Kevin E. Trent
In this vehicular homicide case, the State argues that the Court of Criminal Appeals substituted its judgment for that of the trial court when it overturned the trial court’s denial of probation.  The State contends that this decision conflicts with the abuse of discretion standard that the Supreme Court has determined should be used by appellate courts when reviewing a trial court’s decision on how a sentence is to be served.  The State also argues that this Court should no longer require, under common law, that an offense be “especially violent, horrifying, shocking, reprehensible, offensive or otherwise of an excessive or exaggerated degree” when confinement is based on the need to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense.  State v. Trotter, 201 S.W.3d 651, 654 (Tenn. 2006).

State of Tennessee v. Lajuan Harbison
This case is before the Court upon the Court of Criminal Appeals’ reversal of the defendant’s convictions of four counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and four counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and remand for a new trial based on its holding that the trial court should have granted severance of the two defendants; that the evidence was insufficient to support one of the defendant’s attempted voluntary manslaughter convictions and the corresponding conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony based on the inapplicability of the doctrine of transferred intent; and that multiple convictions of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony violated double jeopardy.  The State argues before this Court that the double jeopardy issue was not properly raised but that, in the alternative, the multiple firearm-employment convictions do not violate double jeopardy because each conviction stems from the commission of distinct underlying felonies against different victims.  The State also argues that the trial court’s denial of severance was not an abuse of discretion because there was no showing of prejudice as a result of the joint trial.

Tennessee Supreme Court oral arguments are open to the public.  The arguments will begin at 8:30 a.m.  To see the full schedule of oral arguments, visit TNCourts.gov.