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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name In re COVID-19 Pandemic CJ-TN-0014
Docket / Court 2020-0428 ( State Court )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Jail Conditions
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
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 ... read more >
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.

Emily Kempa - 04/01/2020
Averyn Lee - 06/14/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Conditions of confinement
Over/Unlawful Detention
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Denied
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Special Case Type
Appellate Court is initial court
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Tennessee Supreme Court
Plaintiff Description Dozens of criminal justice and prison advocacy organizations
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 03/24/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Declaration of Dr. Jaimie Meyer [ECF# 42]
CJ-TN-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/16/2020
Order Continuing Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings and Extension of Deadlines
CJ-TN-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2020
Emergency Petition to Supplement Court's Order
CJ-TN-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/27/2020
COVID-19: Statewide Demands
CJ-TN-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/27/2020
Order Modifying Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings and Further Extension of Deadlines
CJ-TN-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Order Extending State of Emergency and Easing Suspension of In-Person Court Proceedings
CJ-TN-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
show all people docs
Judges Bivins, Jeffrey S. Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0004 | CJ-TN-0014-0005 | CJ-TN-0014-0006
Clark, Cornelia A. Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0004 | CJ-TN-0014-0005 | CJ-TN-0014-0006
Kirby, Holly M. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0004 | CJ-TN-0014-0005 | CJ-TN-0014-0006
Lee, Sharon G. (State Supreme Court, State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0004 | CJ-TN-0014-0005 | CJ-TN-0014-0006
Page, Roger A. Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0004 | CJ-TN-0014-0005 | CJ-TN-0014-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Deaner, C. Dawn (Tennessee) show/hide docs
CJ-TN-0014-0001

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