The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued an order extending the suspension of most in-person hearings until March 31. Court clerk offices will remain accessible.

The recent order provides a list of exceptions for emergency situations, and courts across the state are encouraged to continue and increase virtual proceedings as much as possible. The high court previously reinstated the suspension of in-person hearings Dec. 22, and that suspension was due to expire Jan. 31. The continued threat of COVID-19 led to the extension.

Since March, Tennessee courts have held over 10,000 virtual meetings and proceedings. Additionally, Supreme Court orders have suspended any Tennessee state or local rule, criminal or civil, that impedes a judge’s or court clerk’s ability to utilize available technologies.

The suspension order continues to affect all in-person proceedings in all state and local courts in Tennessee, including but not limited to municipal, juvenile, general sessions, trial and appellate courts. This order applies statewide to all courts and court clerks’ offices except administrative courts within the Executive Branch and federal courts and federal court clerks’ offices located in Tennessee.

Under the terms of this order, the courts of Tennessee remain open, consistent with the Judicial Branch’s obligation to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. Judges should work with local law enforcement and other county officials to ensure that, to the extent possible, courthouses remain accessible to carry out essential constitutional functions and time-sensitive proceedings.