Open for Comments and Questions

By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville

In previous years, I’ve made it a practice to travel across Tennessee to gather comments and answer questions from the public and practicing bar about the state of the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. These meetings have been referred to as “Listening Tours” and “Coffee with the Court.” They’ve always been in-person, but 2020 wouldn’t cooperate.

Last year, my plan to make similar visits to each court location was derailed by the pandemic. So we spent last summer working out methods to continue to approve settlements, have trials, hear motions, and all other tasks that a court of law normally does. It was an interesting year because in large part, we were kept out of our normal office space and resorted to working remotely – meaning from home. We’re getting close to returning to a more normal approach to our work lives. And, it just so happens that this coincides with our bi-annual update of rules, which have yet to be published.

In light of this convergence of events, I’m announcing a virtual “listening tour” in May. The “tour” will occur on May 7 and May 14. We’ll have to send you a link to be admitted to the event. Each session will be at 1 p.m. Central Time on those days. You may attend both sessions if you wish. The format is open ended and without a printed agenda. The idea is to field your questions and listen to your comments about any subject dealing with the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims.

Of course, we won’t answer “hypothetical” questions about “what if” the proof shows X or Y. And, of course I can only address questions about Court not the Appeals Board. But, we’re open to any suggestions, inquiries about the future of settlement procedures, trials, courtroom protocols, and your thoughts about rules we should consider changing — or anything else you want to discuss.

So, to get your “invite” to the virtual event, please R.S.V.P. to our Clerk, Penny Shrum, at penny.patterson-shrum@tn.gov. Let her know which date(s) you’d like to attend, and she’ll send you the link on the morning of the event.

Simple enough? We hope so, and look forward to seeing you (if you turn your camera on) then.

Photo by Kim Weaver, Legal Assistant, Knoxville.

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