By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
In May of 2020, the Court issued a COVID-19 order that set standards for attending in-person hearings and trials. Those standards echoed the then-known risks of exposure to COVID-19 being identified by the medical community.
Since that time, the exposure risks have been more clearly defined. For instance, back in 2020, we didn’t allow anything in the house without wiping it down. And, we barely went out in public in the Spring of 2020.
Now, I go anywhere (masked), and I have not wiped items down for 10 months. The CDC has opened the world up for fully vaccinated people. It has declared the risk to be minimal if you’re fully vaccinated, whether indoors or outdoors. Following suit, the Tennessee Supreme Court has issued a new order opening the state trial courts to hearings with judicial discretion on COVID-19 precautions.
Consistent with the Supreme Court Order, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims is issuing a new COVID-19 order, easing protocols for in-person hearings and trials. Basically, the judges have discretion to require masks during hearings and trials. We’ll continue social distancing and asking risk questions but will be more open to mask-less hearings and trials.
The new order is here. The presiding judge in your case has discretion concerning protocol.
We’re not back to in-person settlements just yet though. Stay tuned for more information on that this summer.
Please Note: In buildings that are not state-owned, the building may require masks still in common areas. Check with court staff about special building regulations before coming.
One cautious step at a time.