by Roxana Rudolph –
After the extended suspension of all in-person proceedings, Shelby County General Sessions Court reopened at the end of March 2021. Our first time back for a trial took place in Division 6 of Shelby County General Sessions Court over two separate days, the 15th and 22nd of April. It was unusual to start a trial, break for a few days and then finish on day 8, but we were happy to be back in a courtroom litigating. Following closing arguments from counsel, Judge Lonnie Thompson rendered a total defense judgment in favor of our client, Gossett Kia.
The case was not particularly complex in terms of legal claims/defenses. As such, we did not anticipate the trial proceedings taking 6-7 hours over the course of 2 days. With the court reopening after such a lengthy closure relative to in-person trials, we were fortunate to find two days in the same week. Nevertheless, we were very pleased with the ultimate outcome of trial – particularly after waiting for months on end to finally get the matter set and heard!
It was exciting to have kicked off the post-hiatus period with a general sessions trial win and we look forward to carrying that momentum forward as court proceedings are becoming more prevalent.
There are just as many people at the courthouse for purposes of general sessions proceedings since the reopening of in-person proceedings. Court attendants are still required to wear masks and the courtrooms have been marked with limited seating in order to enforce social distancing.
General sessions proceedings are likely to be overburdened for at least 3-5 months. There have been challenges with scheduling/facsimile submissions/docket entries, etc. since the pandemic closures began back in early 2020. Thus, it is more important than ever that attorneys are diligent in keeping track of when things are scheduled/rescheduled. We call the clerk’s office often for updates on when certain submissions will be entered, etc.
In general, things are moving slower. We envision it might be months before general sessions proceedings are completely back to normal. Circuit and Chancery proceedings are not facing quite as many challenges, given that they were able to adapt more quickly with remote proceedings.
Welcome back to litigating!
Roxana Rudolph is an Associate Attorney in the Spicer Rudstrom Memphis office, focusing on Appellate Practice, Corporate and Business Litigation, Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith, and Insurance Defense Litigation .