Anyone visiting the LMU-Duncan School of Law on Wednesday afternoon can expect a heavier than normal security presence. While the University has round-the-clock security at the law school, it’s never as noticeable as it will be on Wednesday when the Tennessee Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in LMU-DSOL’s Courtroom on the third floor.
Tennessee’s highest court goes on the road a handful of times each year to promote access to educational institutions. Through the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES) program the Court visits high schools and high school programs. For instance this year they heard 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. It will be the first such engagement for LMU-DSOL, though the Courtroom was specifically designed to hold five justices on the bench in hopes that the Supreme Court would one day sit there.
Not only will the students of LMU-DSOL be fortunate enough to witness the Court in action, the docket for the afternoon includes a death penalty appeal. Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Associate Justices Janice M. Holder, Gary R. Wade, William C. Koch, Jr., and Sharon G. Lee will preside over 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.
In accordance with the security requirements of the Court, LMU-DSOL will be limiting access to the building throughout the day. The third floor will be restricted in the afternoon when court is in session and everyone entering the building should expect to be wanded by security.
The arguments will be heard beginning at 1:30 p.m. The proceedings are open to the public.