Tennessee Supreme Court To Hear Cases At East Tennessee State University As Part Of SCALES Program

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases at East Tennessee State University on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 as part of its SCALES program. SCALES stands for the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students.  This nationally acclaimed program, over 20 years in operation, has allowed over 38,000 students across Tennessee to learn more about the Tennessee legal system and the function of the appellate courts.  The program provides the students this first-hand experience through a partnership of attorneys, teachers, and students.  Prior to the event, volunteer attorneys and judges visit the students’ classrooms to discuss the actual cases the students will hear and help them understand more about the process.

The proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. EST and will be livestreamed to the TNCourts YouTube page - www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts/featured

The details of the cases that the Court and students will hear are as follows:  

State of Tennessee v. Kemontea Dovon McKinney - Mr. McKinney (Defendant) was almost eighteen when he shot and killed the victim. He and two other men met the victim at a gas station under the pretense of buying a Camaro. When one of his accomplices locked the doors and tried to speed away in the car, Defendant shot the victim. After the car crashed, police used evidence in the car, anonymous tips, and social media photos to track down Defendant at home. He was taken to the police station where he was met by his mother. Police read Defendant his Miranda rights and an interview proceeded. Defendant claimed he was forced by the accomplices to help steal the car and admitted to shooting the victim and discarding the murder weapon.  At a pre-trial hearing, the Defendant and his mother said they did not understand the Miranda warning, did not read the waiver he signed, and did not know he could request an attorney. The trial court denied the motion to suppress the confession, and the jury found him guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, and theft. The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the trial court erred by denying the motion to suppress and admitting the statement into evidence. The CCA found that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction for first-degree premeditated murder. The CCA reversed the convictions and granted a new trial limited to the charges of felony murder, second degree murder, aggravated robbery, and theft. The State appealed to the Supreme Court.

State of Tennessee v. Dashun Schackleford - Mr. Shackelford (Defendant), a seventeen-year-old from Chattanooga, and his fifteen-year old friend robbed four teenage boys at gunpoint. The victims were playing basketball when the perpetrators approached them. The mother of one of the victims notified police of the robbery. The next day, one of the victims saw the same car Defendant drove the day before parked on his street. Later that day, Defendant and his friend were arrested. At trial, Defendant denied that he was the perpetrator, but he did not deny that the victims had been robbed at gunpoint. A jury convicted Defendant of four counts of aggravated robbery and attached criminal gang enhancements to each count. He was sentenced to twenty years. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the convictions, finding that the State failed to sufficiently prove the gang enhancement counts. The State appealed to the Supreme Court.