First Judicial District child support, criminal division offices closed to public

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Due to the concerns and spread of COVID-19, all child support and criminal division offices in the First Judicial District are closed to the public.

Atty. General Ken Baldwin said, “At this point, staff members will be conducting duties, but public contact is being kept to a minimum. I made the decision on Friday to close all offices to the public. This is an effort to protect victims, officers, attorneys, citizens and my staff from contracting or spreading this virus and doing my part to keep our communities safe.”

Any member of the public needing assistance is encouraged to contact the local District Attorney’s office in their county. The contact number for Carter County is (423) 547-5897.

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The District Attorney’s office handles cases in General Sessions, Criminal, Juvenile, Circuit, and Chancery Courts.

“The District Attorney’s office has daily contact with hundreds of people throughout the district, whether it be in a courtroom or in the office. By allowing in-person contact to continue, I feel it may be a breeding ground to the possible spread of COVID-19,” said Baldwin.

“The Supreme Court has declared a state of emergency for the judicial branch. Courts remain open. However, all in-person court appearances has been suspended through March 31. There are some exceptions set forth in the order and the courts are handling these matters appropriately,” Baldwin continued.

He stressed that witnesses and victims do not need to appear in court unless specifically notified. “Unfortunately we do not have the staffing to call each and every witness or victim that has been subpoenaed. We are hoping to work through the media to help spread the word. Any witness or victim that has been subpoenaed for dates now through March 31 do not need to appear in court,” Baldwin said.

Grand jury proceedings in Carter County have been rescheduled for April 1 and Washington County grand jury proceedings will now be held April 6 and 7. “If your presence is needed, we will make an effort to inform necessary parties to appear, but court appearances for witnesses and victims are most likely not going to occur until after March 31. I want to stress this only applies to victims and witnesses. I cannot speak for attorneys who represent defendants or for defendants with charges pending in court,” Baldwin said.

He said Child Support and Criminal Division Offices in the First District are open and employees are working. However, the District Attorney’s Office will remain closed to the public through April 1. However, the closure could remain in effect longer, should health officials recommend it.

Pursuant to the Supreme Court policy, the Public Defender’s office is taking similar measures.