Videos of October Supreme Court Oral Arguments Available

November 8, 2018

Video recordings from oral arguments held before the Tennessee Supreme Court in October are available online. This is the first time oral arguments have been video recorded and made available to the public. 

“There has been too much mystique about the Supreme Court for too long,” Chief Justice Jeff Bivins said. “This Supreme Court is committed to openness and transparency so the public can see and understand the process and decisions we make.”

Tennessee Supreme Court oral arguments have always been open to the public, but few Tennesseans are able to make it to a court session live. The Supreme Court began posting audio recordings of oral arguments on its website in 2013.  The video will give lawyers, students, and others a more realistic feel of the interaction between the Court and attorneys during oral argument, which often includes unscripted questioning and debate.

The cases listed below were recorded and are available to view on the Oral Arugment Video webpage:

  • Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman, et al. v. Tony Parker, et al.- This case comes to the Court by way of the Court reaching down on its own initiative to expedite the appeal in this case.  The case involves a challenge by death row inmates to the State of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol.  In January 2018, the Tennessee Department of Corrections (“TDOC”) adopted a three-drug protocol as an alternative method of execution to the existing single-drug lethal injection protocol.  The TDOC subsequently eliminated the single-drug protocol, rendering the three-drug protocol the only available lethal injection method in Tennessee. The plaintiffs argue that the three-drug lethal injection protocol violates the prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment in the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution.
  • Dialysis Clinic, Inc. v. Kevin Medley, et al.-This case considers whether the attorney-client privilege applies to communications between an attorney and a corporate client’s third-party agent.  The trial court in this case denied the defendant’s motion to compel the production of roughly 200 emails based on attorney-client privilege.  The defendants argue that the trial court denied them their procedural due process rights and that there is an absence of law regarding the standards for determining third-party agency privilege in Tennessee.  In response, the plaintiff argues that the trial court properly held that communications by and between plaintiff’s counsel and the third party were protected by the attorney-client privilege.  The plaintiff also argues that the Tennessee Supreme Court already has determined attorney-client privilege as it pertains to a third-party agent.
     
  • Glenn R. Funk v. Scripps Media, Inc., at al.- This appeal stems from a defamation lawsuit brought by the District Attorney General for Davidson County against the owner of a television news station and one of its investigative reporters.   The plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery, and the defendants argued that some of the information was privileged. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery, concluding that actual malice is an element of the fair report privilege and that the Tennessee Shield Law was not applicable because the defendants had asserted a defense based upon the source of the information. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court as to these two determinations.  Before this Court, the plaintiff argues that the Tennessee fair report privilege may be defeated upon proof of actual malice and that the Tennessee Shield Law does not afford the defendants any relief based on the defense they raised. 
  • Gregory J. Lammert, et al. v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Insurance Company –This case is before the Court because the Court accepted a certified question from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.  The certified question is: “Under Tennessee law, may an insurer in making an actual cash value payment withhold a portion of repair labor as depreciation when the policy (1) defines actual cash value as ‘the cost to replace damaged property with new property of similar quality and features reduced by the amount of depreciation applicable to the damaged property immediately prior to the loss,’ or (2) states that ‘actual cash value includes a deduction for depreciation’?”  The plaintiff argues that the “actual cash value” is determined by accounting for depreciation of materials but not labor.  The defendant, on the other hand, argues that labor is included in the replacement-less-depreciation methodology for determining “actual case value.”
  • Christopher Batey v. Deliver This, Inc., et al.- In this workers’ compensation case, the employee was awarded 275 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits based on the trial court’s finding that he was entitled to increased benefits under workers’ compensation law. The particular statute at issue, Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(B), considers a meaningful return to work analysis to determine whether an employee should receive an additional award of workers’ compensation.  The employer now appeals that award, arguing that the employee’s case is not extraordinary and that he has failed to actively seek employment as required by Tennessee statute.  The employee argues that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s award of permanent partial disability based on Employee’s extraordinary case.  The employee also argues that the trial court properly conducted the meaningful return to work analysis in determining that he was entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Coffee County Board of Education v. City of Tullahoma; Washington County School System, et al. v. The City of Johnson City, Tennessee; Sullivan County, Tennessee, et al. v. The City of Bristol, Tennessee, et al.; Bradley County School System, et al. v. The City of Cleveland, Tennessee; andBlount County Board of Education, et al. v. City of Maryville, Tennessee, et al. - This set of cases has been consolidated for oral argument purposes only.  Generally, the issue before the Court in these cases is whether tax proceeds prior to July 2014 from liquor-by-the-drink taxes designated for “local schools” should be required to go to both the county and city schools when the taxes were passed only by a city referendum.  (Effective July 2014, the General Assembly amended the applicable statute to state that the tax is specifically for the benefit of the city schools if the city operates its own school system.) The County parties in these cases argue that they are entitled to a portion of the pre-July 2014 tax proceeds.  The City parties, on the other hand, argue that they are not required to share a distribution of the tax proceeds with the County parties.
  • New Rule Regarding Collaborative Family Law - On June 13, 2017, the Tennessee Bar Association filed a petition with the Tennessee Supreme Court, asking the Court to create a new Supreme Court rule that would address the practice of “Collaborative Family Law.”  After soliciting and receiving written public comments, the Court determined that it would helpful to hear oral argument regarding the proposed new rule.  As a result, the Tennessee Bar Association will be provide a presenter at oral argument to address the proposed rule as well as the following three topics: “1) the general necessity for the proposed rule; 2) the appropriate regulation of compliance with the rule; and 3) the necessity of a training requirement, and if imposed, the administration of such a requirement.

To view the videos, please click here.