Tennessee Supreme Court Issues Order Reinforcing Local Judges Authority To Respond To Increase In COVID-19 Cases

August 26, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an Order that reinforces the authority of judges statewide to respond to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, including requiring facial coverings in their judicial districts or courtrooms. The Court strongly encouraged judges to consider implementing a facial covering requirement. The Order also prohibits judges from requiring anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who should be in quarantine under CDC guidelines, from appearing in court. Finally, the Order continues to encourage judges to hold virtual proceedings whenever possible.

This is the 11th Order the Court has issued related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a May 14, 2021 Order, the Court lifted the facial covering and capacity requirements and reduced social distancing from six to three feet. On March 15, 2021, the most recent suspension of non-jury in-person proceedings was lifted, and on March 31, 2021 the suspension of jury trials was lifted.

Justice Sharon G. Lee filed a dissent to the Order. In her dissent, Justice Lee states she would reinstate the Court’s previous facial coverings mandate for all courts.

Read the Orders here.