Case: In re COVID-19 Pandemic

20-00428 | Tennessee state trial court

Filed Date: March 24, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: A coalition of criminal justice and prison advocacy organizations filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to take immediate action to reduce the population of Tennessee’s prisons and jails in light of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 25, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered local judges to come up with plans for reducing jail populations in their jurisdictions by March 30, 2020. It also further suspended most in-person court proceedings until April 30. On April 24, 2…

COVID-19 Summary: A coalition of criminal justice and prison advocacy organizations filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to take immediate action to reduce the population of Tennessee’s prisons and jails in light of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 25, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered local judges to come up with plans for reducing jail populations in their jurisdictions by March 30, 2020. It also further suspended most in-person court proceedings until April 30. On April 24, 2020, the Court extended the suspension of in-person court proceedings to May 31 and suspension of jury trials through July 3. According to the latest order on May 26, the suspension of jury trials remains through July 3.


On March 24, 2020, the Choosing Justice Initiative and dozens of criminal justice and prison advocacy groups filed this emergency petition in the Tennessee Supreme Court. The petitioners asked the Court to supplement its earlier order from March 13, 2020 that suspended in-person court proceedings. They sought additional directives to protect the health and safety of incarcerated persons from risks associated with COVID-19 outbreaks inside jails, juvenile detention centers, and prison facilities in Tennessee. The petitioners argued that under state law, the Tennessee State Court had the authority to reduce the threat of COIVD-19 for those in contact with Tennessee's correctional systems and the greater community. They also asked the court to order police departments to issue criminal citations or summons in lieu of arrest when possible. In the petition, the coalition of organizations sought the release of prisoners who

-are serving a misdemeanor sentence;

-are over the age of 50, considered medically fragile, or pregnant;

- are eligible for release on bail, but remain in jail because they cannot afford to pay a money bail condition or court-ordered pretrial monitoring fees;

-are children detained on delinquency charges;

-are persons confined on pending probation or parole violation charges;

-have been granted parole upon the condition that they complete a program prior to release;

-have reached their parole eligibility date;

-are serving sentences solely for drug offenses;

-have less than three years remaining on their sentence; or

-have been in continuous custody for 25 years or more.

The next day, on March 25, 2020, the Court issued an order continuing the March 13th suspension of in-person court proceedings. The Court also ordered local judges to come up with plans for reducing jail populations in their jurisdictions as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order directed each judicial district to submit a plan for a reduction by Monday, March 30.

On April 24, 2020, the Court extended the suspension of in-person court proceedings to May 31 and suspension of jury trials through July 3. Orders of protection and temporary injunctions set to expire between March 13 to May 31 were extended to June 5. According to the latest order on May 26, the suspension of jury trials remains through July 3. Orders of protection and temporary injunctions were further extended through June 15.

Summary Authors

Emily Kempa (4/1/2020)

Averyn Lee (6/14/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Bivins, Jeffrey S. (Tennessee)

Clark, Cornelia A. (Tennessee)

Kirby, Holly M. (Tennessee)

Lee, Sharon G. (Tennessee)

Page, Roger A. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Deaner, C. Dawn (Tennessee)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Meyer, Jaimie (Connecticut)

Judge(s)

Bivins, Jeffrey S. (Tennessee)

Clark, Cornelia A. (Tennessee)

Kirby, Holly M. (Tennessee)

Lee, Sharon G. (Tennessee)

Page, Roger A. (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Deaner, C. Dawn (Tennessee)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Meyer, Jaimie (Connecticut)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document
42

1:20-cv-01803-AKH

Declaration of Dr. Jaimie Meyer

March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

Declaration/Affidavit

20-00428

Order Continuing Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings and Extension of Deadlines

Tennessee state supreme court

March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

Order/Opinion

COVID-19: Statewide Demands

No Court

March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020

Press Release

20-00428

Emergency Petition to Supplement Court's Order

Tennessee state supreme court

March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020

Other

20-00428

Order Modifying Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings and Further Extension of Deadlines

Tennessee state supreme court

April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

Order/Opinion

20-00428

Order Extending State of Emergency and Easing Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings

Tennessee state supreme court

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 25, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 24, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Dozens of criminal justice and prison advocacy organizations

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

Civil Rights Corps

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tennessee Supreme Court, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Over/Unlawful Detention

COVID-19:

Mitigation Granted

Mitigation Requested

Social distancing ordered