Tennessee Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments involving felons possessing firearms and personal injury  judgments Thursday morning while officially holding court in Collins Alumni Auditorium.

Lipscomb hosted the session as part of the American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State, which according to its website is a “nonpartisan program, centered on citizenship, teamwork, and fostering a love of God and country.”

Oral arguments have been heard by Girls State participants since 2011, as part of the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students. According to the Tennessee Supreme Court website, this SCALES program is “designed to educate students about the judicial branch of government” and allow them to watch the Supreme Court in action.

Supreme Court justices Jeffrey S. Bivins, Cornelia A. Clark, Holly Kirby, Sharon G. Lee and Rodger A. Page convened for the first case hearing at 8:30 a.m. The first case involved a ruling regarding felons in possession of a firearm. According to the Tennessee Supreme Court Website, the court “has asked the parties to address whether the trial court erred in denying Mr. Cole-Pugh’s [the defendent] oral request for a necessity instruction” regarding exception to the law.

 The Court also reviewed a personal injury case in which the defendant’s insurance company sought a declaratory judgment, asking the Supreme Court to determine “whether persons asserting claims against the insured are considered indispensable parties under Tennessee law and whether non-joinder of parties asserting claims against an insured deprives the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction.”

After hearing the oral arguments from both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney, the court held a recess and opened up the floor to questions from citizens and Girls State participants to the attorneys.

The Q&A session allowed the opportunity for participants to ask questions regarding the cases, as well as general questions to the attorneys on their education and the obstacles they have faced while practicing law. This opportunity is a way for the ALAVGA to speak with people in a profession they might potentially want to pursue, but who don’t have access to speak with an attorney at another time.

Defense attorney Lance R. Chism told the spectators about his profession: “It’s a lot of hard work and you have to put in a lot of hours — work at it — it’s a stressful profession and you have to be creative sometimes.” 

Photo courtesy of @ALAVGS Instagram.

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