State Supreme Court Again Suspends Jury Trials; Says Some Attorneys, Litigants With COVID Have Come To Court

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court has put down a new order that again suspends jury trials until at least Jan. 31.

The court cited a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and said it had learned that some attorneys and litigants with the deadly virus had appeared in open court.

The order says court proceedings should be handled through such means as video conferencing as much as possible.

A requirement that all who enter the courthouse wear a face covering remains in effect. 

The order says:

On March 13, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court declared a state of emergency for the Judicial Branch of Tennessee government and activated a Continuity of Operations Plan for the courts of Tennessee. See Tenn. Const. Art. VI, § 1; Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 16-3-501 to 16-3-504 (2009); Moore-Pennoyer v. State, 515 S.W.3d 271, 276-77 (Tenn. 2017); Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 49. This state of emergency constitutes a “disaster” for purposes of Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 49 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-1-116.

On March 25, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court continued the suspension of in person court proceedings and the extension of deadlines. On April 24, 2020, the Court modified the suspension of in-person court proceedings and extended deadlines. Under the Court’s April 24, 2020 order, the Court reviewed and approved comprehensive written plans received from the judicial districts in Tennessee to gradually begin the conduct of in-person court proceedings. On May 26, 2020, the Court extended the state of emergency, but eased the restrictions on in-person court proceedings, including the lifting of the suspension of jury trials, subject to certain enumerated requirements. On July 9, 2020, the Court ordered the mandatory use of face coverings.

In light of the recent significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Tennessee, particularly in the rural areas of the State, and the Court’s receipt of a number of reports of instances of failure to comply with the approved comprehensive written plans of judicial districts by judges, attorneys, and litigants, including in some instances the appearance in open court of attorneys and litigants who have tested positive for COVID-19, the Court considers it necessary to take additional steps to protect all participants in the judicial system and the public at large. As a result, the Court orders:

1) The suspension of all jury trials from November 23, 2020, through January 31, 2021, subject only to exceptions which may be granted by the Chief Justice on a case-by-case basis. 11/17/2020 2

2) The previously approved comprehensive written plans of the respective judicial districts continue in full force and effect.

3) The Court’s July 9, 2020 mandatory face coverings order remains in full force and effect and continues to apply to all persons who enter the courthouse for court-related business.

4) As required by the previous orders of this Court and by the approved comprehensive written plans of judicial districts, all court matters should be conducted by means such as video conferencing and telephonic conferences, if possible, as an alternative to in-court proceedings. The Court also reemphasizes that all in-court proceedings should be scheduled and conducted in a manner to minimize wait-time in courthouse hallways.

5) Judges and attorneys have an ethical obligation to strictly adhere to the approved comprehensive written plans of judicial districts and to the provisions of all applicable orders of this Court related to COVID-19.

6) No participant in a proceeding, including judges, lawyers, parties, witnesses, clerks and court officers, shall appear in court or in a court-related proceeding, including a deposition, who has tested positive for COVID-19 until the participant has strictly complied with the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control regarding isolation of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

7) This order applies statewide to all courts and court clerks’ offices except administrative courts within the Executive Branch and federal courts and federal court clerks’ offices located in Tennessee.

Under the terms of this order, the courts of Tennessee remain open, consistent with the Judicial Branch’s obligation to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. Judges should work with local law enforcement and other county officials to ensure that, to the extent possible, courthouses remain accessible to carry out essential constitutional functions and time-sensitive proceedings.

Except as otherwise provided herein, the provisions of the Court’s May 26, 2020 and July 9, 2020 orders shall continue to govern, and the provisions of this order shall remain in effect until further order of this Court.

This order is intended to be interpreted broadly for protection of the public from risks associated with COVID-19.


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AVERETTE, JAMES BRANDON 1300 WHOOTEN RD RINGGOLD, 30736 Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous ... (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARNOLD, TRACY DARRYL 9517 LOT A BARBEE ROAD SODDY DASIY, 37379 Age at Arrest: 56 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County AGGRAVATED ... (click for more)

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order by Chairman Henderson. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Chairman Henderson). III. Special Presentation. ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AVERETTE, JAMES BRANDON 1300 WHOOTEN RD RINGGOLD, 30736 Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- BALLARD, ANTHONY MONTREL 2401 Chamberlain Ave Chattanooga, 374043314 Age at Arrest: 34 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARNOLD, TRACY DARRYL 9517 LOT A BARBEE ROAD SODDY DASIY, 37379 Age at Arrest: 56 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County AGGRAVATED ASSAULT POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE FOR RESALE POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA FAILURE TO APPEAR --- BENIBO, DAFIYA B 1615 LYNBROOK AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37404 Age at Arrest: ... (click for more)

Opinion

Don't Double The City Judge's Workload Or Cut Their Pay

Why would any City Council person want to double the work load of our wonderful city judge and cut her pay in half? The answer should be no, no, no. Ed Gravitte (click for more)

Why Mandates Are Ridiculous - And Response

Hamilton County COVID cases 62,525 Hamilton County COVID deaths 638 By my math 62525/638 = 0.012 percent 0.012 percent of people that got COVID died from it 99.988 percent survived including myself I just wanted to point out how ridiculous vaccine mandates really are and how COVID hysteria, driven by the media and federal government, is unwarranted. Vaccines reduce ... (click for more)

Sports

Tennessee Comeback Falls Short As Kiffin's Ole Miss Rebels Prevail, 31-26

Heisman candidate Matt Corral completed 21 of 38 passes for 231 yards and threw two touchdown passes, but the story of the night is what he did with his legs. Corral had a career-high 195 yards on the ground as Ole Miss silenced a hostile Tennessee crowd and left town with a wild 31-26 victory over the Volunteers. In total, Corral made up 426 of 510 total yards for the Rebels. ... (click for more)

Maxwell Leads Defense As Mocs Prevail, 21-16

Devonnsha Maxwell lined up shaded just outside the right tackle’s shoulder. He blasted out of his stance and knocked the Buccaneer blocker backward. Maxwell bent around the edge, lunged toward ETSU quarterback Tyler Riddell, and brought him to the ground for one of his three and a half drive-killing fourth quarter sacks. Maxwell’s school-record 4.5 sacks on the day was a UT-Chattanooga ... (click for more)