The Administrative Office of the Courts provides information and access to all the various levels of courts in Tennessee. You can find all the courts in the state and search all public case history. You can also access records on court meetings, oral arguments, opinions and proposed rules. If you’re looking for a particular court record you might need to visit the specific court where the case occurred and ask the court clerk to help you find the information you are looking for.
Most of the Tennessee courts, spread throughout the state’s counties, are divided by judicial districts. Some Tennessee courts — namely the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court — are understandably not assigned to any particular judicial district.
Also referred to as “city courts”, municipal courts hear cases that involve the violation of municipal ordinances. As such, municipal courts often hear cases on traffic violations, pets running loose, instances of littering, disturbances to the neighborhood, and the like.
Tennessee courts assigned as juvenile courts have exclusive jurisdiction over most juvenile cases, including juvenile dependency, minors alleged to be unruly, and child abuse and neglect.
Juvenile courts also hear criminal cases involving parental responsibility violations of parents and guardians. However, it shares with other courts jurisdiction over cases involving the following:
- contributing to a child’s unruly conduct or delinquency
- juvenile traffic offenses
- paternity, child support, and custody cases, as well as other matters related to unmarried parents’ children
- cases stemming from the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction of 1980
- the commitment or treatment of a child with a mental illness or developmental delay
- a child’s guardianship or judicial consent to marriage
- termination of guardianship or parental rights
General Sessions Courts
The jurisdiction of general sessions courts varies depending on laws within each county, but all generals sessions courts hear both criminal and civil cases within their areas of jurisdiction.
A general sessions courts’ civil jurisdiction is restricted by types of actions and monetary limits stated in laws, while the criminal jurisdiction of these general sessions courts is restricted to preliminary hearings in misdemeanor trials and felony cases where the defendant waives his or her right to investigation by a grand jury and a trial with a jury in a criminal or circuit court.
Tennessee courts considered as chancery courts handle varied cases including applications for injunctions and name changes, lawsuits, and contract disputes. A number of cases, including divorces, adoptions, and those involving workers’ compensation, can be handled either by chancery courts or by circuit courts.
Criminal Courts, having been created by law to relieve the load of circuit courts overloaded with huge caseloads, have jurisdiction over criminal cases. Furthermore, criminal courts can also hear appeals of decisions on misdemeanor cases originating from lower courts.
Court of Criminal Appeals
The Court of Criminal Appeals hears trial court appeals of decisions on misdemeanor cases, felony cases, and post-conviction petitions.
All decisions by the Court of Criminal Appeals may be elevated for appeal to the state Supreme Court if permission to do so is granted by the court; however, capital cases are automatically elevated to the Supreme Court.
Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals hears civil, non-criminal case appeals originating from trial courts and certain commissions and state boards.
The Tennessee Supreme Court is the highest court of Tennessee and is thus considered the “last resort court”. It accepts appeals for criminal and civil cases originating from lower courts. Furthermore, it also interprets the constitution and laws of Tennessee, as well as those of the United States.