Pictured in the courtroom at the Supreme Court Building in Nashville are (seated) Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark (standing left to right) , Justice Janice M. Holder, Justice William C. Koch, Jr., Justice Gary R. Wade and Justice Sharon G. Lee.


August 29, 2011 - Harrogate, Tennessee— The Tennessee Supreme Court will be in Knoxville on Wednesday, August 31 to hear oral arguments in Eastern Section cases. The Court will hear the afternoon docket at the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL).

The oral arguments for three cases are scheduled to be presented in LMU-DSOL’s courtroom, allowing students of LMU-DSOL to observe the state’s highest court in person at their own school. The docket for the afternoon includes a death penalty appeal.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to host the Tennessee Supreme Court at the Duncan School of Law,” Vice President and Dean Sydney A. Beckman said. “It is a tremendous opportunity for our students to gain first hand knowledge of our state’s highest court. What a watershed moment for our school. We could not be more proud of our facilities and now all of Tennessee will see the resources we provide our students.”

Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Associate Justices Janice M. Holder, Gary R. Wade, William C. Koch, Jr., and Sharon G. Lee will preside. The arguments will get underway at 1:30 p.m. Court is open to the public. The docket includes Leonard Edward Smith vs. State of Tennessee, Allstate Insurance Company vs. Diana Lynn Tarrant, et al and SNPCO Inc., dba Salvage Unlimited vs. City of Jefferson City, et al.

The Smith case originated in Hamblen County and is a post conviction appeal. Smith is appealing orders of the Hamblen County Circuit Court denying his initial and amended petitions for post-conviction relief challenging his 1985 conviction and life sentence for the first degree felony murder of John Pierce, his 1989 conviction for the first degree felony murder of Novella Webb and his 1995 sentence of death for that murder.

The Court takes oral arguments on the road a couple times a year with the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES) program. Usually SCALES takes the Court to high schools, for instance this year they took oral arguments to both Tennessee Boys State and Tennessee Girls State. The Court has also heard arguments at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.

When LMU-DSOL opened its doors in August 2009 in Knoxville’s historic Old City Hall building, the University had transformed an aging, vacant facility into a state-of-the art center for learning equipped with technology’s most cutting edge tools for teaching. The restoration of a city landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places was impressive enough to garner the highest praise and awards from preservation groups, yet it was not complete. At that time, the courtroom was a large barren room which had been stripped to the plywood floors and awaiting renovation.

Flash forward to today and the room is hardly recognizable. The floors have been reinforced and carpeted. Classroom seating for 117 students has been installed. A custom-built judge’s bench which can accommodate up to five judges sits at the front of the room. A jury box with seating for 12 jury members has been erected to the left of the bench and the prosecution and defense tables sit before the student seating. The room can operate in three modes: classroom, courtroom and advanced.

Dean Beckman has extended invitations for all area judges and courts to visit LMU-DSOL and hold court in what is believed to be the most technologically advanced courtroom in the state.

The Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL) is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU-DSOL is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DSOL, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 5303 or visit us online at

Click here for WBIR's story on the event.