COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Public Safety Measures For "In-Person" Hearings

Please see below for general information on how the Criminal Court will help protect public safety when "in-person" hearings are required.

To see the specific Criminal Court protocols, please click here

Public Safety

If an “in-person” hearing occurs, how will the Court protect public safety?

During the limited "in-person" hearings, the Court will be following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. These measures include the following, among others:

  • In conjunction with the Sheriff, defendants will be screened before transport to the courtroom to ensure that specifically identified various risk factors are not present.  If risk factors are present, the “in-person” proceedings will be rescheduled.

  • The Court will limit access to the courtroom during “in-person” hearings. All persons appearing for an “in-person” proceeding, including counsel, parties, court-room staff, and media, will also be pre-screened under the same criteria before entering the courtroom. If risk factors are present for essential persons, the “in-person” proceedings will be rescheduled.

  • The courtroom and courthouse detention facilities be cleaned and sanitized before their use and at regular intervals during the day. 

  • The Court will enforce appropriate social distancing in the courtroom. 

  • The Court will also include reminders as to proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, and it plans to have on hand (and require the use of) hand sanitizer, tissues, and no-touch trash receptacles. 

  • The Court may also require the use of other personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and other equipment. 

Who may attend “in-person” proceedings?

If “in-person” proceedings are required to be held, the Court will limit the number of persons appearing in the courtroom. In general, the Court will permit only the following persons to be present in the courtroom during any “in-person” proceeding: 

  • the immediate parties to the action and their counsel; 

  • media receiving permission to attend by the Criminal Court or the Supreme Court; and 

  • personnel essential to the functioning of the court. 

Are members of the public and media allowed to attend “in-person” proceedings?

Yes, of course, but with advanced permission.   Members of the public are welcome, but are asked to contact the Court so that appropriate space can be reserved in the courtroom.  Members of the public may also attend video-conference proceedings by logging into the Court's Virtual Courtroom.

Members of the media may also attend any “in-person” court proceeding upon approval by the Criminal Court or the Supreme Court, consistent with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 30.  

All requests by the media to attend any court proceeding should be directed  to  and to Barbara Peck, who is the Communications Director for the Administrative Office of the Courts, at or 615-440-2555.  

Upon being notified that the media has sought permission, Court will defer all proceedings to permit such an inquiry to occur.  Cf. Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 30(d)(2)(“Media requesting coverage shall be allowed to present proof, either at the evidentiary hearing or by affidavit.”).

All media personnel receiving approval to attend will be permitted to attend under the Court’s safety protocols.  

For more information about media coverage of Criminal Court proceedings more generally, please see the Media Coverage Page here