Tag Archives: Courtroom

A day of days for the Duncan School of Law

6 Sep

And with that, the Tennessee Supreme Court was in session at the LMU-Duncan School of Law. What an exciting time for LMU’s young law school. For the roughly 200 students, it was an opportunity to see the state’s highest court in action; for Dean Sydney A. Beckman, his faculty and the administration of LMU, it was a watershed moment in the institution’s lifespan.


LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk and LMU-DSOL Dean Sydney A. Beckman take in the action just prior to the Supreme Court proceedings.

When Beckman and company set out to build a law school at LMU, chief among their goals was to harness technology to enhance a student’s experience. They wanted to employ faculty who had practice experience and could offer advice from the life lessons they had learned in their careers. They wanted to provide their students with mentors, as well as teachers, and make sure access was never an issue. They sought to build a facility that could and would host even the state’s highest court so students could observe the law in action.

Last Wednesday, as Justice Sharon G. Lee, Justice Gary R. Wade, Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Justice Janice M. Holder and Justice William C. Koch entered DSOL’s courtroom to the sound of a gavel striking the bench, I could not help but feel a swell of pride for the school, its students, faculty and Dean Beckman.


James Alexander of the Old City Hall Partnership, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) President Nancy B. Moody and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam sign lease agreements to allow LMU to occupy the Old City Hall Building in Knoxville while LMU Board Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk looks on.

Sitting in the very same room that had hosted the lease signing in February of 2008 it’s impossible to quantify just how much has changed in “Old City Hall.” Back then, LMU was still developing plans for the facility that “might” include a possible school of law. Soon after the lease signing, LMU notified the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners of its intent to pursue a jurisprudence degree. Dean Beckman, hadn’t made his first visit to Knoxville yet and was still a faculty member at the Charleston School of Law. He would join LMU in July of 2008. To think of all the man hours that have been spent to get that “possible law school” to the point where it would host the state’s highest court is staggering.

Beyond the pride in how far we’ve come, Wednesday was a celebration of the potential of what is yet to come. As the overflow crowd gathered to hear oral arguments presented in three cases, including a death penalty appeal, it isn’t hard to imagine that some students might one day present their own arguments before the Tennessee Supreme Court. Likewise, it isn’t a far stretch to envision other judges and area courts presiding over the bench in the LMU-DSOL courtroom.



Technology in the Court!

27 Jul

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it. The courtroom in the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL) is now complete and stands ready for the newest class of law students entering next month. A work in progress for two years, the courtroom is the crowning jewel of the law school’s facilities in Knoxville, Tenn.

The courtroom is equipped to hold actual court and LMU-DSOL Vice President and Dean Sydney A. Beckman has already invited judges in the region to hold court in the facility. The Tennessee Supreme Court has accepted Beckman’s invitation and will open their August 31 session at LMU-DSOL. 

That’s right, Knoxville’s historic Old City Hall building, which was home to storied legal history as the home office for the city’s mayor and law director for decades, will hold court once again. 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.  

The view from the jury box when the Courtroom is in court mode.

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 mahogany 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 and the appropriate alternates has been erected to the left of the bench and the prosecution and defense tables sit before the student seating.

Another view from the jury box

One of the most advanced law classrooms in the country, LMU-DSOL’s courtroom can operate in three distinct modes. First, in full classroom mode it features a rotating lectern that can be turned to face three locations. The six large screens in the room can display teaching aids from up to two sources at a time. Full motion tracking is available from the cameras to follow the instructor as they lecture. Like all classrooms at LMU-DSOL, the courtroom includes full Mediasite recording capabilities to capture classes and make them available for student review. Mediasite also allows for the content to be streamed live on the internet and the courtroom is connectable through ITV with LMU classrooms in Harrogate and West Knoxville.

In the courtroom mode, the lectern can be turned 180 degrees to face the bench. With two DVD/VCR combo units available at the podium and audio video control booth, two different exhibits can be displayed at one time. Additionally, the courtroom has the ability to function as a completely paperless court. A document camera can scan and project any document submitted and the sympodium screen allows annotation of materials on both the podium computer and attorney laptops. An ambient noise filter can distort and filter discussion throughout zones of the room including the jury box, allowing attorney-bench conferences without the risk of a jury member overhearing the conference. Media and exhibits may also be routed to the entire courtroom or selected destinations as instructed by the bench. A jury conference room is adjacent to the courtroom to allow for jury deliberation.

The third mode, advanced mode, requires an audio video operator but allows complete control over all cameras and media routing. It can be used for highly specialized presentations or very sensitive court proceedings. The courtroom in any mode is a highly valuable training ground for LMU-DSOL and a unique asset for the legal community of Knoxville.

The technology in the courtroom was planned by Beckman and his administration building off the experiences of the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine which employs many of the same amenities. The system was designed and installed by Nashville audio-visual systems integrator Multi-Media Master’s Inc. Account Manager Keith Martin and Service Manager Ron Randolph spearheaded the project, working closely with Beckman. Multi-Media Masters (M3) is a company that works to produce the best audio-video solutions to meet specific needs. With fast-paced advances in technology, M3 is dedicated to being at the forefront of the audio/visual industry.