The Tennessee Supreme Court is the highest Court and the Court of last resort in the State of Tennessee. In Tennessee, the Supreme Court of Tennessee appoints the Tennessee Attorney General. In all other states except Tennessee the state Attorney General is directly elected or appointed by the Governor or state legislature. The Court normally meets in Jackson, Knoxville, and Nashville, as required by the state Constitution in order to prevent regional bias. The Supreme Court consists of five Judges, of whom not more than two reside in any one of the grand divisions of the State. The Judges designate one of themselves to preside as Chief Justice. The concurrence of three of the Judges is every case to constitute a binding decision. The Justices serve eight-year terms and can succeed themselves. The office of Chief Justice rotates among them.
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, the Supreme Court only hears 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 jurisdiction of this Court shall be appellate only, under such restrictions and regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by law. It may also possess such other jurisdiction as conferred by law. The five Justices may accept appeals of civil and criminal cases from lower state Courts. The Supreme Court may assume jurisdiction over undecided cases in the Court of Appeals or Court of Criminal Appeals when there is special need for a speedy decision. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction in cases involving state taxes, the right to hold public office, and issues of constitutional law.
Attorneys may present oral arguments before the Supreme Court. Unlike trials in lower Courts, there are no witnesses, juries, or testimonies in the Supreme Court. Tennessee Supreme Court opinions on constitutional issues can be appealed only to the federal Courts, which may or may not agree to consider the appeals.
Tennessee Courts Website: http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/