Tennessee Supreme Court coming to the Model City

Matthew Lane • Nov 18, 2019 at 11:45 AM

KINGSPORT – More than 500 local high school students will get the chance to witness the state’s highest court at work this week.

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two cases on Tuesday in Kingsport as part of the court’s SCALES programs. SCALES stands for the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students.

Since its creation in 1995, the SCALES program has given more than 36,000 Tennessee students from more than 540 high schools the ability to see the judicial branch in action, to learn more about the Tennessee legal system and the function of the appellate courts.

According to a release from the court, the program provides the students firsthand experience through a partnership of attorneys, teachers, and students. Prior to the event, volunteer attorneys and judges will visit the students’ classrooms to discuss the actual cases that will be heard and help them understand more about the process.

The two cases that will be heard on Tuesday are Joshua Keller v. Janice Casteel et al (a wrongful termination case out of Cleveland, Tennessee) and State of Tennessee v. Steve M. Jarman (a case alleging inadmissible evidence was presented in a criminal trial).

“Hearing cases before the students of this great state is one of our most enjoyable experiences,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, who also happens to hail from Kingsport. “It’s a unique opportunity for the court to participate in civics education for Tennessee’s students.

The following high schools will be participating in the SCALES program on Tuesday: Sullivan North, Sullivan South, Sullivan East, Dobyns-Bennett, D-B EXCEL, Tennessee High, Elizabethton, Unicoi County, Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Providence Academy, and Science Hill.

“The Tennessee Supreme Court believes that educating young people about the judicial branch is paramount to creating productive citizens,” Justice Cornelia Clark said. “The SCALES project is a great opportunity for high school students to get a firsthand look at the Supreme Court in action, while also developing an appreciation for the rule of law and the role it plays in our society.”


Chief Justice Jeff Bivins took office as a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court on July 16, 2014. Effective Sep. 1, 2016, his colleagues elected him to the position of chief justice.

Judicial Experience

Tennessee Supreme Court (2014)

Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (2011)

Circuit Court, 21st Judicial District (2005)

Circuit Court, 21st Judicial District (1999)

Previous Employment

Private practice, Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry, Nashville, (1986 to 1995; 2001 to 2005)

Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel, Tennessee Department of Personnel, (1996 to 1999; 2000 to 2001).


Vanderbilt University School of Law, J.D. 1986

East Tennessee State University, B.A. Magna Cum Laude, 1982