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Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Oral Arguments, Extraordinary Experiential Learning Opportunity for Lipscomb Community


pictured left to right: Judges Timothy L. Easter, John Everett Williams, Jill Bartee Ayers

In a rare event last Wednesday, February 9, 2022, a crowd of nearly 100 community members and court officials listened in anticipation as the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals heard oral arguments in Collins Alumni Auditorium on Lipscomb University’s campus. The Lipscomb community was invited to witness Tennessee’s judicial process firsthand and experience three real cases and arguments as they were presented before the court.

Presiding over the oral arguments were Judges Jill Bartee Ayers, Timothy Easter, a Lipscomb Academy Class of 1978 alumnus, and John Everett Williams. As a unique experiential learning opportunity, Lipscomb Academy’s Ignite Leadership and Public Service, consisting of nine upper school students, sat in the audience to hear three appeals of previous convictions involving first degree murder, second degree murder, and aggravated assault.

After the conclusion of oral arguments, Judge Easter reflected on his time while a student at both Lipscomb Academy and Lipscomb University. “There is no amount of money, or anything else, that I would take for my Lipscomb experiences. Every stage of my education - from elementary school (5th grade) to high school to the university - prepared me. It was while I was still on the academy side of the campus that I first learned of Micah's directive to be aware of just what it is the Lord requires of me. ‘To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.’ These are words that have particularly healthy nutrients for members of the judiciary. Thank goodness, I was blessed to learn it early at Lipscomb.” 

Judge Timothy L. Easter, Lipscomb Academy Class of 1978 Alumnus


Lipscomb Academy upper school faculty member and Ignite Leadership and Public Service leader Mark Pugh asked students to ruminate on the judicial hearing and document the impactful moments. Student Jake Rosenthal, sophomore, was inspired by the legal knowledge shown by the panel of judges. “One of my takeaways is how the judges questioned the attorneys. I had never seen this before, but the judges came with questions that some of the attorneys were not familiar with, and it was very interesting to see how [the attorneys] would react.”

Additionally, Rosenthal’s drive to be an attorney or judge was intensified by the experiential learning. “I loved the whole experience…watching the entire trial process...the use of persuasion as the lawyers would try to persuade the judges to side with them. I am so excited to do some version of this in the future!”

In collaboration with Lipscomb University, Lipscomb Academy continues to offer unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to its students.

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