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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Shelby County courthouses could reopen next week under new plan

The plan must be approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court
Credit: WATN

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, working in partnership with the judiciary under the guidance of Presiding Judge Kathleen Gomes, has designed a comprehensive reopening plan for Shelby County courthouses, some of which could begin to reopen as early as next week upon approval of the Tennessee Supreme Court.   

The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for the security of 54 courtrooms located in the three Shelby County courthouses which house the Criminal Courts, Chancery Courts, Circuit Courts, Probate Courts, Juvenile Court, the General Sessions Criminal and Civil Courts as well as the judges, clerks, the District Attorney General, the Public Defender, the Sheriff’s Office and a number of other support personnel.

There are also three City of Memphis courts housed in the Criminal Justice Center. The Memphis Police Department is responsible for those courtrooms.

All Courthouses

All entrants to Shelby County courthouses will be required to have face coverings. If entrants are unable or refuse to wear a face covering, they will be instructed to contact the applicable Court Clerk’s office to state that they were unable to attend court. Signs are posted regarding health conditions, requesting that no one who is ill/COVID-19 symptomatic enter the building. Those people will be asked to notify the applicable Court Clerk’s office that they were unable to attend court.                                

Only people directly impacted by the litigation will be allowed entry (litigants, victims, witnesses). Children who are not involved in the litigation will not be allowed entry.

The following are the entry and exit plans for the three Courthouses:

Criminal Justice Center

  • Generals Sessions Courts Divisions 7-13, 15, and Memphis City Courts: Entry and exit will be on Washington Avenue at the southwest doors, which have traditionally been used for public entry. These doors are immediately off the sidewalk.
  • Criminal Court Divisions 1–10, General Sessions Divisions 14, Environmental Court, and Division 25 (Orders of Protection and Drug Court Preliminary Hearings): Entry and exit will be on Poplar Avenue at the northwest doors. These doors are immediately off the sidewalk. People with special needs due to disabilities, age and other conditions will be allowed entry at the most accessible entrance.

Civil Courthouse

  • Every entrance and exit currently open will remain open. Sheriff’s Office personnel will verbally direct visitors to the area of the courts or office they are seeking.

Juvenile Court 

  • Entrance is restricted to Washington Avenue except for those with disabilities or special needs who may enter on Adams Avenue.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. is committed to ensuring the safety of everyone working or visiting the three courthouses. He is grateful that all members of the judiciary recognize that plans may need to be modified and is confident that the lines of communication will remain open to resolve all issues expeditiously for the greater good of our community.

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