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DA Dunaway Has Mixed Feelings On TN Supreme Court Order

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
DA Dunaway Has Mixed Feelings On TN Supreme Court Order

Thirteenth District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said he does not agree with the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision to suspend jury trials.

The Supreme Court ordered Tuesday to stop jury trials from November 23 through January 31, 2021 due to COVID.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” Dunaway said. “I do not know how helpful it will be to suspend jury trials until January 31st in my personal opinion. Jury trials are a constitutional right, and I think that is not the best course of action.”

Dunaway met with criminal court judges and public defenders Wednesday to prioritize which cases to be heard after the suspension. Dunaway said he anticipates multiple cases to go to jury trial next year.

“We are going to continue to hold dockets and prepare for trials and handle cases as normal,” Dunaway said. “We are just going to have to delay the actual jury trials until after January 31st unless there is an extraordinary circumstance.”

Under the order, jury trials can only happen with an exemption from the Tennessee Chief Justice. Dunaway said his offices are still evaluating the idea of making that request.

This is the second suspension of jury trials this year. Dunaway said the suspension will likely not have an impact on most Upper Cumberland citizens.

“I do not know if Upper Cumberland residents will notice very much at all,” Dunaway said. “I do not know if it will have a direct affect on residents. Law enforcement is continuing to work and investigate criminal offenses and charge and arrest when it is necessary. The only real practical thing this order has done is just delay trials.”


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