UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
IN RE: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER )
THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES )
CREATED BY COVID-19 )
Given that the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic, that the Governor of the State of Tennessee has declared a public health emergency throughout the state in response to the spread of COVID-19 and given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities have advised the taking of precautions to reduce the possibility of exposure to the virus and slow the spread of the disease, it is hereby ORDERED that, effective immediately:
- The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee will remain open for business, subject to the following limitations. Staff in the Clerk’s Office will be available by telephone, mail will be received, and intake desks will remain open for filings. Electronic filings may still be made through the CM/ECF system. The public is encouraged to continue utilizing Court services while following all applicable public health guidelines.
- Subject to any exceptions identified below, all civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to commence from March 16, 2020 through April 24, 2020, before any district or magistrate judge in any division in the Eastern District of Tennessee are CONTINUED, except as otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. The Court may issue other orders concerning further continuances as necessary and appropriate.
- With regard to criminal jury trials, due to the Court’s reduced ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors and the effect of the above public health recommendations on the availability of counsel and Court staff to be present in the courtroom, the risks posed to the jurors 3:nd the public, the time period of the continuances implemented by this Order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, as the Court specifically finds that the ends of justice served by ordering the continuances outweigh the best interests of the public and any defendant’s right to a speedy trial, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A). Should any speedy trial motion or challenges associated with the findings in this District-wide Order be filed in any individual case, the presiding judge is encouraged to make any necessary case-specific findings in the record of such case.
- Although jury trials are continued through April 24, 2020, cases not scheduled for a jury trial during this period will continue as scheduled. This Order does not otherwise impact case-specific deadlines contained in each case’s Scheduling Order. Other case proceedings will continue to take place in the ordinary course of business. However, to the extent practicable, oral proceedings will be conducted by telephone or video conferencing.
- All grand jury proceedings in Greeneville and Chattanooga shall be suspended through April 24, 2020; this Standing Order does not affect the present Grand Jury scheduled for Knoxville on March 17, 2020 nor does it affect the future scheduling of the Knoxville Grand Jury; further, the United States Attorney is permitted to continue to utilize the grand jury in the Knoxville Division of this Court as scheduled and to have it consider matters arising in all divisions of this Court, in order to ensure that the consideration and investigation of criminal activities may continue without interruption across the District.
- All civil trials that are scheduled to commence without a jury will be handled at the discretion of the presidingjudge based on the case’s particular facts and circumstances.
- All misdemeanor, traffic and petty offense dockets (also known as the CYB docket) scheduled in all Divisions of this Court through April 24, 2020, are hereby CONTINUED. New dates for the cases scheduled on such dockets shall be reset without the need to file any motions with the Court. The Court anticipates that each Division of this Court will issue their own individual orders identifying the names and/or dates of the specific dockets that are covered by the instant District-wide General Order.
- All non-essential judicial activities such as courthouse tours and naturalization ceremonies shall be canceled until further order of the Court.
- The Court encourages parties and counsel to report, prior to personally appearing in Court, any concerns they have about health issues or relevant symptoms so that the Court can make informed decisions in the interest of justice and in the interest of the public’s health.
- It is further ordered that the following persons shall not enter any United States Courthouse in the Eastern District of Tennessee: any person who has been in China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Europe within the past 14 days from the date of the entry of this Standing Order or from the date in which such person is seeking entry into the Courthouse; or persons who reside or have been in contact with someone who has been in one of the countries listed above within the past 14 days; or persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, heath agency or other healthcare provider; or persons who have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diag nosed wit h COV ID- 1 9; o r perso ns exper ie ncing fever , coug h o r sho rtness of breat h. To ensure the imp le mentatio n of this provis io n of this Standing Order , the Unite d States Marshal, his Deputies, a nd the Co urt Securit y Officers are accordin gly DIRECTED to appropriate ly scree n any vis ito rs en tering the Un ited States Courth ouses in the Eastern Dis tri ct of Te nnessee co ns iste nt with these vis itor restr ictions and shall deny entry to anyone attempting to enter in vio lati o n of this Or der.
- As dic tate d by the ever-c hanging circumstances and the anticipated in crea se in co mm unit y spread of the corona viru s, the Co urt may issue further responses as the s itu atio n evo lves, inc lu din g possible e xtens ions of the tim eframes set fo rth i n th is O rder.