Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee visited Bright School on Monday and shared with students in grades 3-5 her toolkit for being a judge.
Third grade teacher Amanda Angel and her husband, Justin Angel, who is a Circuit Court Judge for the 12th District in Tennessee, invited Lee to speak at the school.
She began her talk to the upper grades by bringing out her judge toolkit. She put on her black judge’s robe first. Then she showed the students her gavel, Tennessee Code Annotated book, book of opinions, Tennessee Blue Book, her iPad and court rule book.
Lee explained how cases come before the Tennessee Supreme Court through the appellate process. “You have to convince the Supreme Court to take your case,” she said.
How do you get to be a judge is one question she addressed: “Do what you are doing now,” she said. “Read, think, be curious.” Then she said to follow that by learning how to write well, go to law school and pass the bar exam.
There are times when the Supreme Court justices are faced with a very tough case or do not agree and have split decisions. “Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. The right decision is not always the popular decision,” she said.
Students asked very thoughtful and interesting questions such as “How do you defend someone if you know they are guilty?” (“Everyone is entitled to a defense,” she said.) and “Why did you want to become a judge?” (I thought I’d like making those decisions and looking at both sides of an issue,” she said.)
Lee was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2008 and re-elected twice. She previously served on the Tennessee Court of Appeals and was an attorney in Madisonville for 26 years.