Mar. 16 2020

Tennessee Supreme Court Orders Continued Suspension of Civil Court Appearances Until May 31, 2020 With A Further Extension Of Deadlines Until June 5, 2020

On March 13, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court declared a state of emergency for the Judicial Branch of Tennessee government and suspended all in-person proceedings in state and local courts through March 31, 2020. This suspension was extended to April 30, 2020 in a subsequent Order issued on March 25, 2020. A third Order was recently issued on April 24, 2020 continuing the suspension until May 31, 2020, subject to certain exceptions.

While all courts will remain open during this time, motion hearings and trials that have not begun on March 13, 2020 will be postponed. Jury trials already underway on March 13, 2020 are not postponed. Suspension of jury trials shall remain in effect through July 3, 2020. The Chief Justice ordered some exceptions may apply. For instance, if a hearing may be conducted remotely, it may still proceed during this period. Additionally any emergent relief from criminal activity, child services, public health or involuntary commitment matters may still be heard.

The order expressly does not prohibit court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing, email, or other means that do not involve in-person contact. The order does not affect courts’ consideration of matters that can be resolved without in-person proceedings. While courts may limit in-person contact with the public during this time period, should it be necessary to close judges’ and court clerks’ physical offices, the offices must remain accessible by telephone, e-mail and fax during regular business hours. If available, drop boxes should be used for conventionally filed documents. Any Tennessee state or local rule, criminal or civil, that impedes a judge’s or court clerk’s ability to utilize technologies to limit in-person contact is suspended until April 30, 2020.

Deadlines set forth in court rules, statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, or otherwise that are set to expire between March 13 and May 31, 2020 are extended through June 5, 2020. Statutes of limitations and statutes of repose that would otherwise expire during the period between March 13 and May 31, 2020 are extended through June 5, 2020. Deadlines, statutes of limitations, and statutes of repose that are not set to expire between March 13 and May 5, 2020 are not extended or tolled by this order.

Mediations, depositions and other discovery are not automatically postponed by the Order.

Adopting a similar stance, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Tennessee ordered suspension of civil and criminal trials. The Courts further ordered that all non-essential proceedings scheduled or typically undertaken in-person should be continued or conducted by videoconference or telephone if available. The Jackson, TN Federal Courthouse is closed to the public until further notice.

A copy of the Supreme Court Order may be found here.

A copy of the Western District Court Order may be found here.

A copy of the Middle District Court Order may be found here.

A copy of the Eastern District Court Order may be found here.

Courthouse closing information may be found here.

Questions? Contact one of MGC’s litigation attorneys.

This legal update is published as a service to our clients and friends. It is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. Past success does not indicate likelihood of success in any future legal representation.