Pandemic Forces Tennessee Supreme Court to Suspend In-Person HearingsA surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Tennessee has prompted the Tennessee Supreme Court to suspend all jury trials and in-person hearings. The order was filed by the state’s Supreme Court and applies to all state and local courts. In-person proceedings and jury trials are suspended until at least March 31. The order, which was issued on December 22 and updated on January 15, does not apply to any administrative offices of the Executive Branch, federal courts, and federal court clerks’ offices within the state.

Exceptions to the in-person suspension

There are exceptions to the in-person suspension of hearings and jury trials for Maryville criminal defense cases and other issues as defined by the Supreme Court. These exceptions can be granted by the Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice on an individual case basis. The exceptions are as follows, according to the order issued by the Tennessee Supreme Court:

  • Proceedings necessary to protect constitutional rights of criminal defendants, including bond-related matters, preliminary hearings for incarcerated individuals, and plea agreements for incarcerated individuals
  • Proceedings related to relief from abuse, including but not limited to orders of protection
  • Proceedings related to the statutory order of protection hearings after entry of an ex parte order necessary to satisfy any due process concerns
  • Proceedings related to emergency child custody orders
  • Proceedings related to the voluntary surrender of parental rights
  • Settlements involving a minor or a person with a disability
  • Department of Children’s Services emergency matters related to child safety, placement, permanency, or federal funding for children in foster care
  • Proceedings related to petitions for temporary injunctive relief
  • Proceedings related to emergency mental health orders
  • Proceedings related to emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable persons
  • Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Other exceptions as approved by the Chief Justice

If the Chief Justice deems that a trial can be held in-person, only the people necessary to the case can be in the courtroom. Any other person wishing to be present in the courtroom is required to contact the judge presiding over the case at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. Everyone in the courtroom will be required to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

During the term of the suspension, courts are encouraged by the Tennessee Supreme Court to conduct hearings using phones, email, video conferencing, teleconferencing, and other virtual methods to continue with cases.

The provisions of this order remain in effect until an additional order is provided by the Tennessee Supreme Court to protect the public from COVID-19.

Adjusting to remote hearings is not easy, but finding the right attorney to usher you through them should be. Contact the Maryville attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. to discuss the status of your case in East Tennessee. Call our office at 865-982-8060 or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation today.