State Supreme Court set to lift some restrictions

(TN Supreme Court press release) The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an Order that will ease the current restrictions on in-person proceedings starting in March. This is the ninth Order the Court has issued related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court’s December 22, 2020, and January 15, 2021 Orders, issued during the height of the surge in COVID-19 cases across the state, suspended most in-person hearings, with exceptions, until March 31, 2021.

Because of the recent and continuing decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, the Supreme Court is lifting restrictions on non-jury in-person proceedings earlier than expected. Specifically, today’s Order:

(1) Lifts the suspension of in-person court proceedings in termination of parental rights cases on Monday, March 1, 2021;

(2) Lifts the suspension of all other non-jury in-person court proceedings in all state and local courts in Tennessee, including but not limited to municipal, juvenile, general sessions, trial, and appellate courts on Monday, March 15, 2021; and

(3) Preserves the suspension of all jury trials through the close of business on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, subject only to exceptions that may be granted by the Chief Justice on a case-by-case basis.

If courts elect to hold in-person hearings, they must continue to follow their judicial reopening plans approved in 2020 and available here: https://www.tncourts.gov/node/6042449. In addition, face coverings continue to be required, and attorneys, litigants, and others should familiarize themselves with the Order’s quarantine requirements in cases of exposure or a positive test.

Even with the easing of restrictions, the Court still encourages courts to hold virtual proceedings whenever practical. Since March 2020, Tennessee Courts have held over 11,000 virtual meetings and proceedings. Additionally, Supreme Court Orders, which are not affected by today’s Order, have suspended any Tennessee state or local rule, criminal or civil, that impedes and judge’s or court’s ability to utilize available technologies.

Today’s Order is available on the TNCourts.gov coronavirus webpage https://www.tncourts.gov/Coronavirus.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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