JACKSBORO, TN. (WLAF)- Courts across the Eighth Judicial District are attempting to reopen in a limited capacity.
Noting a need to keep the public and court personnel safe while also “expanding operations from what has been reduced to a crawl,” Presiding Judge Shayne Sexton assembled the plan with input from judges across the five county district.
The plan was approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court earlier this week.
While each plan submitted by the district judges had slight variances, the crux of the proposals was resuming court functions in the safest way possible.
Court will still be held via the online platform of Zoom when possible, according to the plan. Acknowledging that court operations need to resume as fully as feasible, other measures have been put in place.
Each court will have only one point of entry into the buildings.
Prior to individuals being permitted into courthouses, the buildings will be cleaned in accordance with CDC guidelines. Certain staff members will be designated as “entry personnel” and they will conduct screenings of those entering the building. This will include a temperature check, asking travel related questions and “observing health and the demeanor” of those people, the plan said. Anyone presenting as ill will not be allowed in the building.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be made available to those attending court. The requirement of wearing the PPE will vary depending on the court.
Recognizing the public health risk of large groups, the judges agreed to allow no more than 10 people in a courtroom with social distancing being practiced. In essence, sitting in crowded courtrooms waiting for a case to be called is not a part of this plan. Instead, a check-in procedure will be utilized. Once checked in, people will be asked to return to their cars or to a designated, socially distanced area to wait for their case to be called. Using a phone call, text, or in some cases, a public address system, people will be notified when their case is called.
Once their business is finished, people will exit the courthouse.
Courts across the eighth district will operate under these guidelines for the rest of the month. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED -05/14/2020- 6AM)