By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
We are now completing our fifth week of all telephonic settlement approvals. As a previous post stated, the hearings are going very well. The Governor has now relaxed the stay-at-home directive. Attempts are being made to restart businesses and return to “normal” while keeping some common-sense restrictions in place.
We believe it’s prudent to continue with telephonic settlement approvals through the month of May and possibly beyond. In-person settlement approvals bring large numbers of people together in small spaces. For now, that closeness continues to be a potential health hazard for those people – employees, counsel, court staff and judges. It is difficult to maintain the suggested distances in these small settings, not to mention that papers are being touched by multiple parties. No one seems to know how long the danger might last. We do not want to unnecessarily expose you and us to those risks.
So for now through May, we will continue doing settlement approvals by phone. Each month we will reassess the process based on the available medical and statistical information about the spread of the virus. Somewhere down the road, we will return to in-person settlements because we believe they are important. We just don’t know when.
Look for a blog post near the end of each month on the method of settlement approvals for the following month.
And, once again we would like to thank you for patiently working through the temporary system of settlement approvals.