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Tennessee Supreme Court Issues New Order Related to Court Operations During COVID-19

Posted by John Ballard | Nov 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

 

 

"In response to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the state, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order today designed to protect all of the participants in the judicial system and the public at large while keeping the courts open and accessible to carry out essential constitutional functions and time-sensitive proceedings. This is the Court's sixth order related to the pandemic since it declared a state of emergency for the judicial branch on March 13, 2020.

Today's Order suspends jury trials from November 23, 2020 through January 31, 2021, unless an exemption is granted by the Chief Justice. Jury trials were previously suspended from March 13 – July 3, 2020. In addition, the Order directs judicial districts to revisit and strictly adhere to their previously approved reopening plans; reiterates that the Court's July 9 Order mandating face coverings for all persons who enter the courthouse for court-related business is still in full effect; encourages video conferencing whenever possible; reminds judges and attorneys that they have an ethical obligation to comply with Court Orders and the reopening plans drafted by the judicial districts; and prohibits anyone with COVID-19 from participating in an in-person proceeding. In addition, the Order directs judges to schedule and conduct in-person hearings in a manner that minimizes wait times in courthouse hallways, which often have limited space for social distancing."

I think that the prohibition on jury trials will continue past January 31st.  There just does not seem to be a good way to get 12 people in the court room to do a jury trial.  Let alone pick a jury.  Keep in mind, these jurors sit in a room full of 300 other jurors just waiting to be ushered to the appropriate court room, usually 30 at a time.  I just do not see that happening until a vaccine is widely distributed.  Plus, what rational person would go to such a thing?  Especially in Nashville.  

Hopefully we can get through the rest of 2020 with our current court dates intact.  We need them.

About the Author

John Ballard

John Ballard is a third generation attorney following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jack Butler, and his father before him, Howard "General" Butler. Born and raised in Williamson County, John has spent his life in Middle Tennessee. Upon graduating with a Philosophy degree from Samford University, enrolled in Nashville School of Law where he went to school at night while working at his grandfather's law practice in Nashville. After learning the law from one of Nashville's legendary attorney's John spent two years as Judge Seth Norman's court officer in Davidson County Criminal Court Division IV. Working for Judge Norman gave John a unique opportunity to get to know attorneys as well as criminal defendants before graduating Law School in 2014, wherein he was awarded the Moot Court Award. John began his law practice at 1308 Rosa L Parks Blvd with over a dozen of Nashville's best criminal defense attorneys. While developing a criminal defense practice, John learned that there was a need for a robust law practice that could serve many different legal needs of the community. In addition to needing contracts, civil litigation, document generation, often times the community needs someone to help them jump hurdles and cut through red tape. It may be dispute regarding insurance, employment, codes, local government, or regulations, and knowing the right people and how to navigate seemingly complex issues is important. Working to find a solution without litigation is important, but sometimes the only way to resolve an issue is to let the judge decide. John has spent most of his career in court arguing and winning cases in front of juries and judges on a myriad of issues. His background means that he is familiar with not only the courts but the judges, attorneys, and court staff as well. He is comfortable in the courtroom litigating complex issues because he comes prepared and outworks the other side. John has recently moved his main office to Franklin, Tennessee and brings with him the experience, knowledge, and reputation from Nashville, but also as a native to Williamson County.

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