Supreme Court to Hear Cases at Lipscomb University for Volunteer Girls State

May 26, 2017

Lipscomb University will host the Tennessee Supreme Court next week as part of American Legion Auxiliary’s Volunteer Girls State, a nationally recognized program providing high school female leaders in Tennessee the opportunity to experience and learn about civic engagement.

The Court will hear two cases at the session on campus June 1. The program participants will receive study materials to learn in-depth details about the cases.  Following oral arguments, the students will participate in a Q&A session with the attorneys who argued the cases.

The Supreme Court’s oral arguments are just one part of the weeklong program that provides a first-hand glimpse into how our system of government works.  The program allows student delegates to elect leaders and conduct legislative sessions, all the while emphasizing the importance of citizenship and collaboration.  In addition to learning about the judicial process and studying the cases they will observe, they also will hear from a number of other elected officials in Tennessee.

Oral arguments begin at 8:30 a.m. in the AM Burton Health Sciences Center on Lipscomb’s campus for the following cases:

State of Tennessee v. Tabitha Gentry aka Abka Re Bay ­­– This case stems from an incident in which the defendant chained the gates of a vacant estate and took possession of the property, resulting in the defendant’s convictions for theft of property in excess of $250,000 and aggravated burglary.  The Supreme Court will consider whether it is possible, under Tennessee law, to steal real property, and whether the defense should have been allowed to raise the issue of adverse possession.

State of Tennessee v. Sedrick Clayton – This is a Supreme Court direct appellate review of a death penalty case in which Sedrick Clayton was sentenced to death in Shelby County for the premeditated murder convictions of three individuals.  The Court will consider multiple issues, including whether the evidence introduced at trial was sufficient to establish premeditation on the part of the defendant and whether the defendant’s statement to the police should have been suppressed.

The Court also will hear two cases later Thursday in the Supreme Court Building in Nashville. Oral arguments for the following cases will begin at 1:30 p.m.:

Sean K. Hornbeck v. Board of Professional Responsibility – This case is a review of a hearing panel’s judgment disbarring Mr. Hornbeck for various violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, including failure to preserve client property, failure to communicate with his client, and unauthorized practice of law.  This decision was affirmed by the chancery court.  The Supreme Court will consider whether Mr. Hornbeck waived his ability to challenge for retroactive application of his disbarment and whether retroactive application is appropriate in this case.

Board of Professional Responsibility v. Robin K. Barry –This attorney-discipline case involves an attorney who was suspended by a hearing panel for failure to communicate with her client and for mismanaging the client’s funds.  The chancery court modified the hearing panel’s sanction, instead ordering the disbarment of Ms. Barry.  The Supreme Court will consider if disbarment is the appropriate sanction and whether that disbarment should be applied retroactively to the date when her suspension began.

The Supreme Court will then hear one additional case on Friday, June 2, 2017, in the Supreme Court Building in Nashville.  Oral arguments for the following case will begin at 9:00 a.m.:

In re Gabriella D. – This consolidated parental termination case involves the foster parents’ attempt to terminate the parental rights of the birth mother of three siblings.  A trial court ruled in favor of the birth mother, but the Court of Appeals reversed, citing the lower court’s failure to consider past abuse by the birth mother against the children.  The Supreme Court will consider whether the termination of the birth mother’s parental rights is in the best interests of the children.

Read more about the Tennessee Supreme Court here. Learn more about Volunteer Girls State on their website.