The Tennessee Supreme Court may be late to the Zoom craze, but the five justices donned their robes and held the state’s first livestreamed oral arguments on Tuesday, with three cases on the docket.
The high court began video recording proceedings nearly two years ago. And last month, the justices held arguments by video conference which were later posted online.
“So today, we take the next natural step,” Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivens said. “We feel like this is a very important step from the standpoint of showing our citizens and having them grow in confidence in our system by showing our courts are open and accessible.”
Bivens told attorneys not to talk over each other, as so often happens in video calls. But he also said he didn’t expect perfection out of the litigators or the justices.
Lower courts in Tennessee have also held hearings through livestreaming. When internet access was challenging, judges even held court in their parking lots with proper social distancing.
The three cases heard Tuesday by the state Supreme Court all came from East Tennessee: an asbestos liability claim against several industrial companies out of Knoxville, a medical liability suit from Chattanooga and a property dispute in Hamblen County.