10th Judicial District, Athens, Tenn. – Thanks to ongoing generous donations from the Frist Foundation’s Ansley Fund, attorneys and community members and organizations, students attending 12 public and private schools in the 10th Judicial District will hear oral arguments in three state Supreme Court cases Friday, October 5, as participants in a SCALES (Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students) program. Participating schools include Bradley Central High School, Cleveland High School, Copper Basin High School, Fairview Christian Academy, McMinn Central High School, McMinn County High School, Polk County High School, Sequoyah High School, Sweetwater High School, Tellico Plains High School, Tennessee Christian Preparatory and Walker Valley High School.
The high school students and their teachers will attend the SCALES program at the Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, TN. The students will hear arguments in an actual case followed by a question and answer session led by the attorneys that argued the cases. Participating students and teachers will join the Supreme Court, local judges, attorneys and other guests for lunch and a brief program. The program’s luncheon is sponsored by the Bar Associations and local attorneys from Bradley, McMinn and Polk Counties.
Teachers attended a two-hour professional development session conducted by Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Curwood Witt and Chancellor Jerri Bryant to review the cases to be argued at SCALES. They were provided with materials to use in their classrooms and SCALES project handbooks were provided for each student. Local judges and attorneys also made classroom presentations to the students to review the cases and issues to be considered by the Supreme Court. After the Justices rule in the cases, copies of the Court's opinions will be provided to the classes and also posted on the court system website at www.tncourts.gov.
This year’s SCALES program will include arguments in cases involving the issues of whether the police had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to conduct a lawful seizure; whether a defendant was denied his constitutional rights to effective counsel; and whether the Court of Appeals erred in deeming harmless the trial court’s admission of certain evidence in a particular case.
Chief Justice Gary R. Wade notes that “the members of the Court enjoy interacting each year with the many bright young people across the state that we have the pleasure of meeting during the SCALES programs. The SCALES program gives students an opportunity to see how an independent judicial branch works and the importance of the judicial system itself.”
Since the Supreme Court initiated SCALES in 1995, 25,859 students from 465 schools have participated in the program. The Court conducts SCALES programs statewide at the request of local judges, Boys State, Girls State and members of the Bar.