Courts Tennessee

JUDICIARY OF TENNESSEE

The Judiciary of Tennessee is classified into four Categories such as The Supreme Court at the highest level, Intermediary Appellate Courts, Trial Courts and Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. The law relating to the Jurisdiction, function and power of Judges etc. of the Courts of the State is governed by the Title 16 of the Tennessee code.

SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court of Tennessee is the highest court of the State. The jurisdiction of the court is appellate only, under such restrictions and regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by law; but it may possess such other jurisdiction as is now conferred by law upon the present Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction

The court has no original jurisdiction, but appeals and writs of error, or other proceedings for the correction of errors, lie from the inferior courts and court of appeals of law and equity, within each division, to the supreme court as provided by this code. The court also has jurisdiction over all interlocutory appeals arising out of matters over which the court has exclusive jurisdiction.

The supreme court may, upon the motion of any party, assume jurisdiction over an undecided case in which a notice of appeal or an application for interlocutory or extraordinary appeal is filed before any intermediate state appellate court after June 22, 1992.

The supreme court may, upon its own motion, when there is a compelling public interest, assume jurisdiction over an undecided case in which a notice of appeal is filed with an intermediate state appellate court.

Appeals

All appeals, and appeals in the nature of a writ of error, taken from the final judgment or decree of an inferior court, at any time before the sitting of the supreme court, shall stand for hearing at the first term, without notice to the opposite party.

INTERMEDIARY APPELLATE COURTS

COURTS OF APPEAL

The jurisdiction of the court of appeals is appellate only, and extends to all civil cases except workers' compensation cases and appeals pursuant

All cases within the jurisdiction thus conferred on the court of appeals shall, for purposes of review, be taken directly to the court of appeals in the division within which the case arose, the eastern division to include Hamilton County and the western division to include Shelby County. As to all other cases, the exclusive right of removal and review is in the supreme court. Any case removed by mistake to the wrong court shall by such court be transferred to the court having jurisdiction thereof, direct.

TRIAL COURTS

COURTS OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

The jurisdiction of the court of criminal appeals shall be appellate only, and shall extend to review of the final judgments of trial courts in:

  1. Criminal cases, both felony and misdemeanor
  2. Habeas corpus and Post-Conviction Procedure Act proceedings attacking the validity of a final judgment of conviction or the sentence in a criminal case, and other cases or proceedings instituted with reference to or arising out of a criminal case
  3. Civil or criminal contempt arising out of a criminal matter
  4. Extradition cases
  5. The court or any judge thereof shall also have jurisdiction to grant petitions for certiorari and supersedeas in proper cases within its jurisdiction as provided by law

CIRCUIT AND CRIMINAL COURTS

The circuit court is a court of general jurisdiction, and the judge thereof shall administer right and justice according to law, in all cases where the jurisdiction is not conferred upon another tribunal.

The circuit court has exclusive original jurisdiction of all crimes and misdemeanors, either at common law or by statute, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute or this Code.

The circuit court has jurisdiction to try and determine all issues made up to contest the validity of last wills and testaments.

The circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine applications to be restored to citizenship, made by persons who have been rendered infamous by the judgment of any court of this state.

The circuit court has jurisdiction to enter judgments on awards of arbitrators and to hear and determine agreed cases.

The circuit court has jurisdiction, concurrent with courts of general sessions, to the extent of the jurisdiction of the latter, of all debts and demands on contract over fifty dollars ($50.00).

The circuit court and the chancery court have concurrent jurisdiction to change and alter the names of persons and to legitimate children.

The circuit court has concurrent jurisdiction with the chancery court to grant divorces, to authorize the adoption of children, to release testamentary and other trustees, and to appoint trustees in place of those released or dead, and also to decree, on petitions of trustees, by will or otherwise, for the sale of property, real or personal.

The circuit court has concurrent jurisdiction with the chancery and county courts to make partition and distribution; and, for this purpose, to sell property, real or personal, if necessary, or manifestly to the interest of the parties; and to sell land to pay debts of decedents where the personal assets are insufficient.

The circuit court is clothed with all the powers of the chancery court to abate nuisances, in an action brought for recovery of damages resulting from a nuisance, upon the finding of a jury that the subject matter of a complaint is a nuisance, and judgment entered thereon.

Any suit of an equitable nature, brought in the circuit court, where objection has not been taken to the jurisdiction, may be transferred to the chancery court of the county, or heard and determined by the circuit court upon the principles of a court of equity, with power to order and take all proper accounts, and otherwise to perform the functions of a chancery court

The circuit court has an appellate jurisdiction of all suits and actions, of whatsoever nature, unless otherwise provided, instituted before any inferior jurisdiction, whether brought by appeal, certiorari, or in any other manner prescribed by law

CHANCERY COURTS

The Chancery court is the next lower court to the Circuit Court. The chancery court has concurrent jurisdiction, with the circuit court, of all civil causes of action, triable in the circuit court, except for unliquidated damages for injuries to person or character, and except for unliquidated damages for injuries to property not resulting from a breach of oral or written contract; and no demurrer for want of jurisdiction of the cause of action shall be sustained in the chancery court, except in the cases excepted

Any suit in the nature of the cases excepted above brought in the chancery court, where objection has not been taken by a plea to the jurisdiction, may be transferred to the circuit court of the county, or heard and determined by the chancery court upon the principles of a court of law

The chancery court has exclusive original jurisdiction of all cases of an equitable nature, where the debt or demand exceeds fifty dollars ($50.00), unless otherwise provided by this Code. It has no jurisdiction of any debt or demand of less value than fifty dollars ($50.00), unless otherwise specifically provided.

The chancery court has jurisdiction to hear and determine all cases in which the boundary line or lines of adjoining or contiguous tracts of land is one, or the only, question at issue in the case.

In all such cases a complete deraignment of title by the complainant from a state grant or common source of title shall not be required as in ejectment cases, but it shall be sufficient to establish title in complainant where the complainant proves clearly that the complainant is the true owner of the lands described in the complainant's bill

The chancery court has jurisdiction, concurrent with the county court, over the persons and estates of idiots, lunatics, and other persons of unsound mind

The chancery court has jurisdiction, concurrent with the county court, of the persons and estates of infants, and of the appointment and removal of guardians

The chancery court has jurisdiction, concurrent with the circuit court, of all proceedings for divorce and for the adoption of children

The chancery court has jurisdiction, concurrent with the circuit and county courts, of proceedings for the partition or sale of estates by personal representatives, guardians, heirs, or tenants in common, and for the sale of land at the instance of creditors of the decedent, if the personal property is insufficient to satisfy the debts of the estate.

The chancery court has jurisdiction, concurrent with all other judicial tribunals, of arbitration and agreed cases under the provisions of this Code.

COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
 
GENERAL SESSIONS COURT

The court of general sessions is vested with all of the jurisdiction and shall exercise the authority formerly conferred by law upon justices of the peace in civil and criminal cases, suits and actions. The jurisdiction, power and authority of the court shall be coextensive with the county.

The jurisdiction of courts of general sessions, where they have been created, shall extend to the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) in all civil cases, both law and equity.

COUNTY COURTS

The county court has original jurisdiction in the following cases:

  1. The probate of wills
  2. The granting of letters testamentary and of administration, and the repeal and revocation thereof;
  3. All controversies in relation to the right of executorship or of administration
  4. The settlement of accounts of executors and administrators
  5. The partition and distribution of the estates of decedents; and for these purposes, the power to sell the real and personal property belonging to such estates, if necessary to make the partition and distribution, or if manifestly for the interest of the parties
  6. The appointment and removal of guardians for minors and persons of unsound mind, and all controversies as to the right of guardianship, and the settlement of guardian accounts
  7. The partition, sale, or division of land
  8. The changing of names and the legitimation of children
  9. The issuance of inquisitions of unsoundness of mind
  10. The binding out of apprentices, and all controversies between master and apprentice.
  11. The county court issues writs of possession to put the purchaser in possession in all cases that the chancery court has and shall be governed by the same rules.
  12. In all counties where not otherwise specifically provided by public, private, special or local acts, all jurisdiction relating to the probate of wills and the administration of estates of every nature, including the estates of decedents and of wards under guardianships or conservatorships and related matters are vested in the county court.
  13. The chancery court in such counties shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the probate of wills and the administration of estates of every nature, including the estates of decedents and of wards under guardianships or conservatorships, and all matters relating thereto, heretofore vested in the county court.

The Court Of Appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from the decisions of the chancery court in such probate matters.

MUNICIPAL COURTS

A municipal court possesses jurisdiction in and over cases:

  1. For violation of the laws and ordinances of the municipality; or
  2. Arising under the laws and ordinances of the municipality; and
  3. A municipal court also possesses jurisdiction to enforce any municipal law or ordinance that mirrors, substantially duplicates or incorporates by cross-reference the language of a state criminal statute, if and only if
  4. The maximum penalty prescribed by state law for the state criminal offense is a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) or less, or confinement for a period of thirty (30) days or less, or both; and
  5. The maximum penalty prescribed by municipal law or ordinance for the violation is a civil fine not in excess of fifty dollars ($50.00)
  6. Municipal court also possesses jurisdiction in the municipal area having a population more that 150000 in the following cases:
  7. Offense of operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver license
  8. Class B misdemeanor offense of reckless driving
  9. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage purchasing, possession, transportation or consumption of alcoholic beverages, wine or beer,
  10. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage consumption, possession or transportation of beer or any intoxicating liquor
  11. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage purchasing or attempting to purchase any alcoholic beverage
  12. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage purchasing, attempting to purchase or possession of any alcoholic beverages
  13. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage purchasing or attempting to purchase beer or alcoholic beverages
  14. Class A misdemeanor offenses of underage possession or transportation of beer

JUVENILE COURT

Juvenile Court jurisdiction is vested in General Sessions Courts in all counties except those in which the law establishes special Juvenile Courts. Juvenile Courts have exclusive jurisdiction in proceedings involving minors alleged to be delinquent, unruly, dependent and neglected. Juvenile Courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with Circuit, Chancery and Probate Courts in some areas.