Jury trials suspended in Tennessee through end of January

While Gov. Bill Lee has rejected a return to more stringent government measures in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, the state Supreme Court has decided to delay all jury trials until at least the end of January.

Read the unanimous order here:

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.
  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 re- emphasizes 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.

It is so ORDERED.

48 Responses to Jury trials suspended in Tennessee through end of January

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    We are very lucky to live in a state with a Governor who is free of the totalitarian impulses that are so obviously present in the liberal Governors of less fortunate states. ELECTIONS MATTER.

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      Not that Stuart guy says:

      Yeah, they result in people dying. Lee’s failure to act is criminal. We’re dying here!

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Yeah NtSg we’re dropping like flies, it’s a regular holocaust. Apparently, a lot of people in Tennessee are getting this virus and are either asymptomatic or not very sick at all. There is no reason to inflict economic devastation on this state that will last for years in order to protect the small minority who are particularly vulnerable. Let a free people calibrate their own risk and keep the government out of our lives until it appears that our hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed. Danger to our ability to afford healthcare is the only reason for government intervention.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        I know a number of people over 70 who simply will not let this pandemic interfere with their lifestyle, it’s really as simple as that. I see no reason why small businesses have to be bankrupted because vulnerable people, having full knowledge of the risks, refuse to be inconvenienced or go without physically seeing their families indoors or simply doing what they want to do when they want to do it.

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          MARLE says:

          Let a free people calibrate their own risk and keep the government out of our lives …..great sentiment BUT we don’t do that. We have the government (and the Fed primarily with tax dollars of those who Actually pay Fed INCOME tax) come in and pay the medical bills. Or the hospital eats the cost for those who declare medical bankruptcy and the rest of us have our premiums jacked up.

          If those Free people paid the total cost of their freedom I’d agree wholeheartedly with you. But they don’t.

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Soooo our medical “welfare system” is the wedge the totalitarians are to use to control our lives. Hmmmm do we put this down as collateral damage from the welfare state with the lesson that once we go down the road the liberals want us to travel you can kiss freedom goodbye.

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            MARLE says:

            You like every other welfare supporter want to have freedom to enslave others. I bet Heritage likes this concept too

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Me “like every other welfare supporter”? HELLO, MARLE this is your buddy Stuart. Remember me – conservative with a libertarian seasoning? A limitation to this means of communication is I can’t see your face nor hear the tone of your voice so I don’t know whether you jest or you simply forgot me. The problem perhaps lies in the fact that I don’t contribute to the relies and responses to this blog enough. I must remember to correct that in the future.

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            MARLE says:

            If you encourage those who want total freedom, telling the government to get out of your life BUT you want the government to step in to clean up their resulting mess…..then “yes” you are one of those welfare sympathizers who refuse to require responsibility for those who demand Freedom.

            I’m sure Marsha is not calling for any limitation on Medicaid funding of those who want the freedom from wearing a mask or social distancing and end up in the ICU. Rights and freedoms without financial accountability is at the heart of the welfare paradigm.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Of course I am consistent insofar as I want freedom and I want a happy country where people enjoy their freedom but also pay any costs in order to enjoy their freedom AS WELL AS pay for any negative consequences of exercising that freedom. On the other hand I am not a U.S. Senator nor have I ever run for a lesser office on that particular platform. Marsha has run numerous times, all but once enjoying victory. Part of her success is that she expresses the mainstream conservative position of advocating freedom but socializing the cost of that freedom. It ain’t pretty but that’s about as far right as you can go in 2020 and expect to get elected.

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    Not that Stuart guy says:

    Lee’s leadership on this issue continues to be pathetic and/or non-existent. Punting to the mayors and saying state-wide mandates don’t work (when there is evidence they do and it is clear that viruses don’t know about county lines) is either political cowardice, ignorance or dereliction of duty. No matter which, Republicans in TN get to say they voted for a man who is literally enabling death. I sure hope he is primaried right out of office in 2 years.

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    James White says:

    Come January the legislature needs to remove the Public Laws that allow governors mayors heath departments and courts from doing this. Remove the laws, let Liberty and Individualism rule.

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      Cannoneer2 says:

      Liberty and individualism rule, right up to the point where one needs a bed in the ICU. I think those that ignore precautions should be at the back of thee line for a hospital bed if they get sick. From my time in state government, I remember the offices of certain career politicians complaining about government, but trying to shove their way to the front when one of their friends needed those government services.

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    LeeAnn C. says:

    Of course, those awaiting a trial will understand another obstacle to the right of a speedy trial. Ridiculous.

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    MARLE says:

    When government stops the “clean up on aisle 6” then, and only then, should people have the right (without the corresponding responsibility to pay the costs associated with the freedom) to complete freedom.

    Pay the total hospital bill with no subsidies from government health care funding and you Should have the right to be as self destructive as your freedom instincts take you. You should take all the heroin you can afford, drive your motorcycle without a helmet, and put yourself daily in the midst of covid-positive people daily…..just pay the cost of the consequences. I am a libertarian to the core; Full freedom with full financial responsibility.

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      James White says:

      I agree, EXCEPT, a poor motorcycle rider may end up at the hospital and will end up costing us money. I have no problem with that, we need a Little government. A little responsibility, if you Ride on the public highway, obey the rules.
      same with taking Heroin….

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        “. . .a poor motorcycle rider. . .” EXCUSE ME?!?!? If someone chooses to ride one of those noisy, stupid things and injure himself as a free market advocate why are you carving out an exception for someone who chooses to engage in needless, relatively dangerous from of recreation. Ah, James, do you or a loved one ride one of those things? I believe my highly sensitive nostrils may have caught a whiff of self-interest here.

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          James White says:

          Negative, I would not ride one. I am only using the example set forth. We have a responsibility, although limited, to society. I would say the same of not wearing seat belts. I don’t agree with these laws constitutionally, but to have a government is to accept some social restrictions. I am not a libertarian.
          One of the people I most admire said it best:
          “ We do not go all of the way with the extreme libertarians, both because we believe that some reasonable measure of government is necessary in any civilized social organization, with even some interference as to our individual rights and responsibilities, about which it is not easy to draw the line.” – Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            You always said you weren’t a libertarian and now, for the first time I know why. I certainly disagree with you. Indigent motorcycle riders should receive government assistance in case of injury. Others should pay for their appetite for dangerous forms of recreation including the resultant injuries therefrom or buy insurance which spreads the risk among a large group of motorcyclists.

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        Cannoneer2 says:

        Nope. Ride, wear a helmet, and man up when the bill arrives.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      As a conservative with a libertarian seasoning I believe we should have a free market for medical care protected by private insurance for which individuals, or their employers, pay. As an incentive for the young and healthy to become insured medical deadbeats should be pursued by the government, after providers are paid, like the hero in Les Misérables for the payment of medical debts that can NEVER be discharged in bankruptcy.

      That’s my solution to our medical finance problems. Lacking that, I will be damned if we should let our medical welfare system be a wedge used by the liberal control freaks to control our lives. No, individual freedom always comes first and if we have to collectivize the financial cost of people acting irresponsibly that is simply the cost of running a welfare state which, of course, I oppose, but lets always be on guard against the welfare state depriving the American people of their individual freedom.

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        MARLE says:

        Regardless of how it Should BE…it isn’t that way. I pay for the freedom warriors who are too poor to pay. Just like I pay for the people who failed to get the good education I provided for them at 10K per person per year. And I pay for those who want the freedom to eat themselves into chronic diabetes or morbid obesity. I pay too for the alcoholics and drug addicts freedom to do as they please. Is it really to much to ask everyone to wear a mask and social distance to stop enslaving others of us. Too much of a sacrifice? Too much of a diminution of their freedom that they not shove the cost onto others?

        And I don’t suppose all the people tweeting about government getting out of their lives are tweeting that there should be NO government assistance for those too poor to pay for the cost of their freedom to expose themselves to covid.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          No, it isn’t too much to ask for people to conduct themselves as per the CDC guidelines, but the key word here is “ASK.” For example, I obey those guidelines because it isn’t too much to ask despite my deep skepticism that it does much good (see, New York City locking down again after never really fully opening up). What I don’t want to see is the police power of the government used to enforce these requests short of such action needed in order to prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            The great state of Oregon has certainly manifest your ideas of freedom. No longer will hard drugs be illegal. Heroin, meth, crack….all legal now. There’s a liberal state enacting your version of Freedom to wreck your life while others will be earning a paycheck to fork over for your medical consequences. Great….let freedom ring.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            My position re: recreational drugs is we have already established that alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, vodka, etc. are ok. If there are drugs such as marijuana that have the same level of addictiveness and intoxicating effect then they should be OK too. Other drugs that are highly addictive and more intoxicating should be banned.
            It then becomes a fact question which drugs fit into which category.

            I don’t know the answer to that question nor do I care. A glass or two of wine and I’m fine so drugs never interested me.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            When you advocate for freedom then it shouldn’t be limited to the things you approve of. Freedom is freedom. The restraint on freedom USED To Be that you suffered the consequences, largely financial but also social, of making a mess of your life with your Freedom. There was a financial consequence to drug use, alcohol abuse, unwed pregnancy, etc ….now there is not only no financial consequence sufficient to curb the behavior but there is a financial pillow with which taxpayers cushion your fall.

            When freedom has a high price tag as months in the ICU does, then your freedom should be limited to the harm its excercise does to the rest of taxpayers. Subsidizing freedom to self destruct only gets more of the behavior. In Econ they call that perverse incentive.

  • Avatar
    Don says:

    Wow. How dumb can a judge, presumeably educated, be? Agree with Mr. Anderson. Let me decide what, when, where, how etc. If “you” want to hide in your basement or cling to your mothers apron have at it but leave me alone. It seems all on the Left want to tell others what to do, since their judgement is so much better. Do you not understand that freedom means to be free? Free to make choices and not have others decide for you. If you want others to decide for you there are plently of other places you can go–China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Former Sovite Union, Iran etc—feel free to leave.

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Swiftt says:

      A judge can’t be as dumb as Don or Stuart or James. These self-proclaimed freedom lovers always conveniently forget that unfettered free actions can have serious consequences for others. For example, I guess they support repeal of drunk driving laws, because everyone should be free to kill or maim others on the highway.

      Or how about this statement from Stuart: “There is no reason to inflict economic devastation on this state that will last for years in order to protect the small minority who are particularly vulnerable.” It’s like he is railing against slavery abolitionists in 1860.

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Jonathan, have you always suffered from an inability to construct equivalences or has this inability simply struck you relatively recently? Your liberal friends in other states are trying to limit the number of people you can invite to your home, forcing businesses to close at a certain hour, mandating the wearing of masks OUTSIDE while walking/running alone, etc. Do you really think that these needless totalitarian ukases are the equivalent of drunk driving laws?

        When I rail against laws needlessly limiting individual freedom I am railing IN FAVOR of human freedom. To rail “. . .against slavery abolitionists” is to argue AGAINST human freedom. See? Not equivalent, rather, opposite.

        I know how intoxicating control over other people’s lives can be to the liberal mind Jonathan. You simply have to expect some “. . .self-proclaimed freedom lovers. . . .” to be around to point out that totalitarianism is unnecessary and not much fun either.

      • Avatar
        Paul says:

        Well said Jonathan….the “me first” freedom caucus speaks up again. Lots of me-me-me and “my rights”, but of course that’s frequently situational as you point out. The old saying about “with rights come responsibilities” doesn’t seem to factor in for many who like to focus on the former. Lots of claims about “my body my rights, my body, my choice”, but of course that applies if you are talking about mask wearing, but not, say, in the case of legal abortion or wanting to smoke marijuana in your home. In which case, the conservo-nanny-state shows up with lots of rules.

        Let me try to fix this for you here Don: “Freedom = free” equates to legalizing all sorts of stuff that we have laws for….I mean why not go for “freeing” up murder and sex crimes while you’re at it. That way, everyone could make “choices” and “not have others decide” for them if they were of a mind to engage in this sort of mayhem. We have laws and, yes, health boards and public health rules/laws, because everyone doesn’t get to “decide” or we have chaos. Does that stop crime? Of course not. But it does create a shared responsibility to protect everyone’s “rights” within the law. We each have responsibilities that goes with all these rights. The 2nd amendment doesn’t allow for murder; we (in theory) have all these “responsible gun owners” that we hear about all the time and there’s plenty of firearms laws. The 1st amendment doesn’t allow you to come onto my property and yell in my living room. And so on.
        Why is that so hard to grasp? Conservatives claim to love the constitution where many “rights” are delineated, but they always seem happy to tell everyone else to “feel free to leave” if there’s an attempt to claim rights in some form that the me-first brigade feels doesn’t actually put them first.

        This simple explanation will probably result in a conservo-rant about antifa, BLM, fake COVID, or some other bogeyman. Taking bets now.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          1. As a libertarian I am a “No” as to mandatory mask wearing, laws outlawing abortion before viability, or smoking marijuana in your own home. Conservatism needs a libertarian seasoning.

          2. Murder and sex crimes are harmful acts directed against another person which an ordered society cannot allow and can’t be equated to failure to wear a mask or social distancing the harm from which to others is very indirect and speculative.

          3. The Second Amendment protect the right to bear arms which has nothing to do with what is done with those arms. The First Amendment prohibits the government from enacting laws to limit free speech, it has nothing to do with people trespassing and yelling on another’s property. You’re trying to illustrate that there needs to be some limitation on freedom to which I agree but these are lousy examples of what you are trying to illustrate. How about this, you can drive a car but the government can place a legal limit on how fast you go. To which I say, laws that all but anarchists can agree on are laws designed to protect others from direct harm or a clear and present danger of harm by your actions. These Chinese Flu rules don’t do either IMO so, barring danger to our ability to provide medical care do to overcrowded hospitals these rules should not be elevated to laws.

          • Avatar
            Jonathan Swiftt says:

            Stuart-

            When you say “Murder and sex crimes are harmful acts directed against another person which an ordered society cannot allow and can’t be equated to failure to wear a mask or social distancing the harm from which to others is very indirect and speculative,” you are denying reality like many other loony conservatives. The debiliating effects of COVID-19 infection, even if one survives, are well documented now in scientific literature. Whether you know you are infected or not, exposing others by not wearing a mask certainly ranks criminally anywhere from assault to manslaughter. Get over yourself.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            The bandanas or single cloth masks that people kinda sorta wear that passes muster with the Chinese Flu Stasi are laughable given the dimensions of this virus and spaces between the strands of cloth in the mask. Further, and more controversialy is the degree of immediacy or inevitability my acting to end your life on the one hand, my driving over the speed limit on the other, and not following the CDC guidelines. The first is obvious the penalty for which is the highest in our criminal law, the second is more problematic so it carries much less penalty, the last is much more speculative because even if I infect someone else, the chance of their becoming seriously ill if they are below the age of 60 is minute. Of course, we are not simply talking about following the CDC guidelines but the liberal control freaks in executive office around the country are going way beyond the guidelines. (Tonight Tucker showed a California paddler alone in the ocean being handcuffed and arrested by the Chinese Flu Stasi for violating the rules.) As a libertarian proportionality leads me to say the liberal control freaks haven’t satisfied their burden of proof that the damage to our economy and the damage to young and middle-age individuals from legal enforcement of the Chinese Flu mandates far outweigh the probable damage to be done by allowing freedom to reign except to protect our hospitals if that need arises.

            The population hiding under a bed or in a cave will drop the death and disability toll from the Chinese Flu to zero. Lowering the speed limit everywhere to 25 miles per hour will drop traffic fatalities to near zero. There is a certain death toll that we accept, however, as part of living in a modern developed society. I think it would be best if our snowflakes accept that fact so we can simply carry on in freedom until these vaccines are generally available this spring.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            Acceptable death toll……Trump was first asked about that back in the spring and to my horror he said ZERO. He had described himself by this point as a War Time president yet the moron said ZERO. Talk about regressive attitudes that would make hiding under the bed the only option to accomplish the goal!!!!

        • Avatar
          Jonathan Swiftt says:

          Paul-

          Common sense and reasoning is always refreshing here. Stuart has already demonstrated his cognitive decline in his response to my comments.

  • Avatar
    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Good news for minorities

  • Avatar
    MARLE says:

    Why should anyone’s freedom enslave ME as a taxpayer. 20% of Americans are on Medicaid. That means when they exercise their freedom to get Covid, their medical bills will be paid for by ME. Be Free in your choices AND to assume your Responsibility to pay for your choices.

    And we allow bankruptcy based on medical bills so that 20% figure is higher still.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Do you mean Medicare and Medicaid? That 20% number seems way too high.

      I’m sorry that Americans are addicted to the welfare state which has the productive citizenry pay for the unproductive to the extent that too many unproductives have no particular incentive to become productive. That’s very regrettable, but we don’t have to lose our freedoms as well by allowing the liberal’s to use their control of the welfare state as tool for them to use to control our lives.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Look it up Stuart. You have a computer. Find out how many people are on Medicaid. Medicare is another sub set and since you do not have to have paid IN one cent to be eligible it is just as big a welfare program as Medicaid for the many who have contributed ZERO or nearly Zero . But yes the Freedom Warriors are only to happy to encourage any and all to expose themselves to covid and let the government programs pay the bill.

  • Avatar
    Don says:

    Mr. Anderson, I marvel at your abilty to tolerate the continuing bilge from the Left. Your ability to patiently address so many thumb-suckers, living in Moms basements, telling others what to think and do, is inspiring. Should the Biden crowd claim the White House and actually pass Leftist policies these thumb-suckers will be the first to cry foul when there are no goods and services. No goods and services because they destroyed the economy, destroyed freedom etc. Paul, I am confident you, and the rest of the Left are confused and blinded persons, explaining why you don’t see the obvious. Oh, and by the way, yes, feel free to leave and start, or join a country where you can “have” it your way.

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Swiftt says:

      Gee, Don, self-rightously telling others what to think and do seems to be your and Stuart’s main purpose here. Don’t share that credit with those that disagree with you.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    You are either “on the bus” or “off the bus”. Stewart just wants to “drive the bus.”
    One American is dying every minute now! Nothing to see here folks, just go about your business…

  • Avatar
    Don says:

    All I ask is for folks to think and act responsibly for themselves and leave everyone else alone. Left equals control, control, control.

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Swiftt says:

      If all folks thought and acted responsibly, and left everyone else alone, you would have a valid point and not an idealistic fantasy. Unfortunately, many people think and act irresponsibly, and their actions have negative consequences on others. That is the primary reason we have laws. If you think only the left is interested in control, you haven’t been paying attention while the right passes more and more laws.

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