Analysis: TN Supreme Court approves reopening plans that account little for public access

in Government

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — As they slowly start reopening, most Tennessee courtrooms aren’t planning or even thinking about how to include members of the public or the TV stations and newspapers that represent them, a review shows.

The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government looked at 26 plans submitted by judicial districts across the state to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Some districts hadn’t yet filed a plan.

Seven of the 26 plans include a method for members of the media to attend in-person or electronic proceedings. Even fewer have provisions that would allow general members of the public who are not participants in a case to view proceedings.

The high court last month signaled it would approve local plans to help courts open back up amid coronavirus concerns. While courts have continued to operate since March, in-person hearings have been sharply reduced.

As a result, many courts have seen significant backups. In Knox County General Sessions Court, for example, at least 8,000 cases have been reset for April and May.

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