Give me three feet – Court loosens distance rule | Local News
The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued an order that will continue to ease current restrictions on in-person proceedings. The most recent order reduces the space required between people in the courtroom from six to three feet; lift the capacity limits of courtrooms still in effect; and raises the requirement for face covers. The ordinance gives judicial districts and the judge the discretion to demand capacity limits for courtrooms based on health and safety conditions. The Order also always encourages face coverings in accordance with CDC guidelines and allows anyone to wear a face cover. Finally, the order encourages courts to continue to use alternative means to in-person hearings, including videoconferencing and teleconferencing.
“Statewide, the courts have done a tremendous job of staying open in these difficult circumstances for over a year and the Supreme Court applauds their innovation, dedication and persistence in upholding our orders, the guidelines of the CDC and state and county health guidelines, ”Chief Justice Jeff Bivins said. “It is time to allow the courts more flexibility in managing their workload and their courtrooms while being aware that the virus is still there. “
This is the tenth order issued by the Court regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to June 2020 and again from December 2020 to March 2021, many types of in-person proceedings were suspended and strict precautions were imposed for any authorized in-person proceedings. Courts have turned to video and audio conferencing, outdoor locations, staggered registers, and other innovative ideas to move cases forward and preserve constitutional and other rights. Overall, courts have held over 18,692 Zoom video licensing proceedings administered by the Courts Administration Office. On March 15, 2021, the most recent stay of in-person non-jury proceedings was lifted, and on March 31, 2021, the stay of jury trials was lifted.