Supreme Court

Tennessee Supreme Court to livestream oral arguments

The Tennessee Supreme Court plans to livestream oral arguments for the first time on Tuesday. While audio and video of proceedings have been posted online in the past, it was with a delay of up to two days.

Because of limitations on in-person attendance in the courtroom due to COVID-19, the state’s highest court is now broadcasting the hearings on its YouTube page in real time.

Here’s the release from the courts:

The Tennessee Supreme Court remains committed to keeping Tennessee courts open while protecting the health and safety of all parties.  Due to the continued concerns regarding COVID-19, the cases set for the May 19, 2020 docket will be heard by livestream video conferencing.  This is one of the many efforts the Court has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize the health and well-being of all litigants, attorneys, judges, and employees of the court system. 

(Details of the cases after the jump)

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Supreme Court declines to take up appeal of abortion amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a ruling that upheld the outcome of 2014 vote on a constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers more power to restrict abortion rights in Tennessee, The Tennessean reports.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January upheld the state’s tabulating method. The Tennessee Constitution declares amendments require not just a simple majority, but a “majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor.”

Plaintiffs argued that only ballots cast by those who had voted in both the gubernatorial election and amendment referendum should be counted (rather than the state’s longtime standard of using the equivalent number of votes).

 

Former Chief Justice Anderson passes away at 85

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice E. Riley Anderson passed away last week at the age of 85. He served on the state’s highest court from 1990 to 2006.

“I guess other people are going to select how you’re going to be remembered,” Anderson once said. “But I’d like to be remembered as somebody who was fair and honest and worked hard at the job.”

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Supreme Court chief thanks legislators for authorizing three new judges

Press release from the Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. ­– The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation this session funding three new judge positions in Tennessee. The new positions will be in the state’s 19th Judicial District, which serves Montgomery and Robertson counties; the 16th Judicial District, which includes Rutherford and Cannon counties; and the 21st Judicial District, which includes Hickman, Lewis, Perry, and Williamson counties.

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Retired TN Supreme Court Justice Frank Drowota dies, age 79

Frank F. Drowota III, who served 25 years on the Tennessee Supreme Court before retiring in 2006, has died at age 79.

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Supreme Court declares Nashville mayor’s election to be held in May, not August

Press release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn.  The Tennessee Supreme Court held today that Metro Nashville must hold a special election to fill the Office of Mayor. The decision reversed a ruling of the Davidson County Chancery Court that upheld the action of the Davidson County Election Commission (“Commission”) in setting the election to coincide with the August 2, 2018 election. Under state law, the Commission now must set a special election to be held between May 21 and May 25, 2018.

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AG says proposed anti-discrimination rule for lawyers is unconstitutional

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery is formally opposing a proposed change to professional conduct rules for lawyers that he contends would violate the constitutional free speech rights of Tennessee attorneys, reports the Nashville Post.

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Supremes will decide date for Nashville mayor election

The Tennessee Supreme Court decided today to resolve a dispute over when Nashville’s election of a new mayor should take place. The Metropolitan Nashville City Council has set the vote for Aug. 2, but a lawsuit contends the vote on a full-time successor to Megan Barry, who resigned in a sex scandal, should be in May.

A lower court judge decided the August date should stand, but that was appealed with a request that the Supreme Court take up the matter promptly. In an order issued today, the Supreme Court agreed to do so and set a hearing for April 9.

The court order is HERE. Previous post HERE.

TN Supreme Court rejects AG request for eight early executions; schedules two for later this year

The Tennessee Supreme Court has denied the state attorney general’s request to move up eight execution dates before June 1, reports the Associated Press. Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the requests Feb. 5 and cited “ongoing difficulty” getting lethal injection drugs.

The court on Thursday did set execution dates for two of the inmates, Oct. 11 for Edmund Zagorski, who was convicted of two murders, and Dec. 6 for David Earl Miller, who was convicted of murdering a mentally disabled woman.

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TN Supreme Court rejects refund of liquor stores’ overpaid taxes

Press release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a taxpayer must pay disputed municipal taxes under protest before suing for a refund.

The city of Morristown, based on a state statute, adopted an ordinance imposing an inspection fee on licensed alcoholic beverage retailers. The city set the fee at 8 percent of the wholesale price based on the county’s population. By 2011, the county’s population increased, and under the ordinance, the inspection fee should have decreased to a maximum fee of 5 percent of the wholesale price. However, from 2011–2014, the city of Morristown continued to charge alcoholic beverage retailers 8 percent inspection fees instead of the authorized 5 percent fees.  Continue reading