Scarcely any area in our lives remain unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The legal community is no exception. On March 13, 2020 the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order directing that all in-person court proceedings are prohibited until April 30, 2020.
However, there are some exceptions. In criminal cases, the courts are still hearing bond related cases, preliminary hearings, and plea agreements for incarcerated defendants. Further, Rutherford County courts issued an expansive pretrial detention order granting release of non-violent misdemeanor defendants on their own recognizance (better known as ROR) and the potential for some class C, D, or E felony defendants to be released on ROR as well. Probation Violations and Contempt of Court detainees are also addressed in the order. The pretrial release order also contains a listing of types of cases that will be considered. That Order is attached to this post for you.
Exceptions in civil proceedings include Orders of Protection and other cases seeking relief for abuse, other injunctive relief, orders for emergency custody and visitation, voluntary surrender of parental rights, settlements for minors or disabled persons, emergency orders for protection of elderly or vulnerable persons, Department of Children Services (DCS) cases relating to child safety, placement, permanency of federal funding for foster care, emergency mental health orders, and cases directly related to Covid-19 public health emergencies. A copy of that order is also attached.
While this order prohibits most in person contact, it does not discourage the courts from conducting proceedings by phone, video, or other remote means. Also, both the Rutherford County Circuit Court and Chancery Court clerk’s office are open during regular business hours.
Although Court services are currently reduced, Bennett, Michael & Hornsby Attorneys offices are still doing businesss during this Covid-19 crisis. Governor Lee’s Executive Order 22 exempts legal services from the stay at home mandate and they are considered essential services which are allowed to remain open for business. If you have questions about the above, or are in need of legal help, don’t hesitate to call our office at 615-898-1560 to schedule a phone or audio/video appointment, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please stay safe and be well!