In 1977, Lieutenant Colonel Al Harvey (yes, the General was a Lieutenant Colonel 40 years ago) began teaching a course at the University of Tennessee Dental School entitled “Dental Jurisprudence.” The purpose of the course was to instruct senior dental students on basic law governing the practice of dentistry and to provide practice hints on how a dentist can get the law on his or her side.”
During its first year, the course culminated in the spring of 1977 with a mock dental malpractice trial in which dental students played the role of plaintiff, defendant, and expert witnesses, and lawyers from the old Thomason, Crawford & Hendrix firm played the role of counsel, with a real-life judge being brought in to preside over the case.
The Dental Jurisprudence course has continued in the dental school for the past several decades. Every dentist in Tennessee who is a graduate of the UT Dental School and has practiced since 1978 has attended the course. And each of these dentists has witnessed the annual Dental Malpractice Mock Trial.
Several years ago, General Harvey handed the leadership role of the course over to Bill Haltom, who now teaches the course with the assistance of Maggie Cooper and Justin Joy.
Last Friday, the Fortieth Annual Dental Malpractice Trial was held at the Dental School with Lewis Thomason associates Alex Park and Patrick Quinn playing the role of lawyers.
Patrick represented the plaintiff, and Alex represented the defendant.
Both Alex and Patrick did a great job, both entertaining and informing the audience of dental students.
The impartial jury of six dental students deliberated for approximately two minutes before Judge Haltom declared a mistrial given the fact that the one hour allotted to the class was over and another class was about to begin.
We commend Alex and Patrick for continuing the great LT tradition of the annual Dental Malpractice Mock Trial.