Concept

Tennessee Supreme Court

Summary
The Tennessee Supreme Court is the ultimate judicial tribunal of the state of Tennessee. Roger A. Page is the Chief Justice. Unlike other states, in which the state attorney general is directly elected or appointed by the governor or state legislature, the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints the Tennessee Attorney General. The Tennessee State Constitution, adopted in 1870, calls for five justices, no more than two of whom may come from any one of the state's three Grand Divisions (East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee) in order to prevent regional bias. For the same purpose, the court is required to convene alternately in Knoxville, Nashville, and Jackson. In recent years this provision has been regarded as permissive rather than restrictive. Therefore, the court has met in other cities, such as Chattanooga, Kingsport, and Memphis, throughout the state as part of a legal education project for high school students called Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES). SCALES has been instrumental in allowing over 36,000 high school students from over 540 high schools in Tennessee see the Court in action since 1995. The justices serve eight-year terms and can succeed themselves. The office of chief justice rotates among the justices. Justices are required to recuse themselves in cases in which they may have a personal interest; the whole court once had to step aside and a case be heard by a special court appointed by the governor, this occurring when the court itself became the subject of litigation, as described below. The Tennessee Supreme Court has no original jurisdiction. Other than in cases of worker's compensation, which have traditionally been appealed directly to it from the trial court, it hears only appeals of civil cases which have been heard by the Court of Appeals, and of criminal cases that have been heard by the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Tennessee Supreme Court was created through the Constitutional Convention of 1834 and replaced the Tennessee Court of Errors and Appeals.
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