All individuals appearing on CourtRegistry are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

Loading...

HOW DO I SEARCH FOR TENNESSEE COURT RECORDS?

In line with the Tennessee Open Records Act, court records are considered public records and are made available to citizens on request. Court records can be obtained from the different judicial branches of the Tennessee Judicial System. In some circumstances, certain court records may be unavailable if they have been sealed, expunged, or restricted by law. Citizens may obtain available Tennessee court records in one of three ways namely;

  • Visit the local courthouse to inspect or copy the paper records of case information
  • Contact the Clerk of Court office at the local courthouse to make a mail-in/online request for available court records under the Public Records request policy
  • Remotely access the electronic copies of court records through a Court Record Search web-app on the courthouse's website or the Tennessee Court System website.

To determine the location of a courthouse or a local Clerk of Court office in the state, consider the Clerks' List on the Tennessee Court System website. Copying court records may cost a nominal fee.

HOW TO GET TENNESSEE COURT RECORDS ONLINE FOR FREE?

There is always a fee attached to obtaining court records. However, electronic copies of available court records offered online represent the freest option available to the general public. Some Tennessee courts offer such electronic copies on their local websites. To access these records, determine the Clerk of Court website for the court where the case filed and consider if a court record search tool is made available on the home page. Where there is no evidence of online court records, contact the Clerk's office to request the necessary records. 

However, the public can access the statuses of cases filed in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of Criminal Appeals through the Public Case History tool on the Tennessee Courts website. Cases can be searched using one of four options namely:

  • Case Number
  • Case Style
  • Party Name
  • Business/Organization

Note that only appeals in which the record was filed after September 1, 2006, are available in the database. The Public Case History tool can also help interested individuals gain access to motions, orders, judgments, and opinions filed in Tennessee appellate courts since August 26, 2013. To obtain paper and/or certified copies of court records, citizens are advised to visit the local courthouses where the case in question was heard.

Court records are considered open to the public and are usually accessible through government sources, though they may also be accessed through third-party websites. These websites offer an easier method in most cases, as they are not limited by geographical area, or by limitations in search engine technology. They can often serve as a starting point when looking for a specific record, or multiple records. Interested parties must usually provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. This may not apply to records on juveniles.
  • The assumed or known location of the person listed in the record. This will most often be a city, county, or state.

Because they are not government-sponsored, record availability on third party websites may vary when compared to government sources.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE COURT SYSTEM WORK?

Like in most states in the United States, Tennessee Court System has two divisions, namely the Trial Courts and the Appellate Courts. The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Criminal Appeals make up the appellate court systems. While the Tennessee trial court system includes Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts, Criminal Courts, General Sessions Courts, Juvenile Courts, Probate Courts, and Municipal Courts.

These trial courts consist of four trial courts of general jurisdiction and three courts of limited jurisdiction. The general jurisdiction courts are Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts, Criminal Courts, and Probate Courts. While the General Sessions Courts, Municipal Courts, and Juvenile Courts are the trial courts of limited jurisdiction

Tennessee's constitution provided for Circuit Courts and Chancery Courts in each of the State's 31 judicial districts. However, Criminal Courts and Probate Courts are established by the legislature in districts where these courts exist. Trial court judges in Tennessee are elected to 8-year terms.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE CIRCUIT COURT WORK?

Tennessee circuit courts are considered courts of general jurisdiction. These courts sometimes share jurisdictions with the chancery courts. Circuit Courts judges hear appeals from Municipal, Juvenile, and General Session Courts. Other jurisdictions cover civil and criminal cases, and domestic relations matters. In districts where criminal courts do not exist, criminal cases are tried in the circuit courts.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE CHANCERY COURT WORK?

Chancery courts are similar to circuits courts because they share jurisdictions over related subject matters. They are considered courts of equity and refer to the judges as chancellors in reference to the English system. Chancery court chancellors are authorized to modify the application of strict legal rules and adapt relief to the circumstances of individual cases as seem fit. Their jurisdiction covers cases of:

  • Divorces
  • Adoptions
  • Workers' compensation
  • Contract disputes,
  • Real Property
  • Application for name changes

These cases can also be heard in Circuit Courts.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE CRIMINAL COURT WORK?

In districts where criminal courts exist, the terms of establishment give them jurisdiction over criminal cases to relieve the circuit courts with heavy caseloads. Criminal courts also hear appeals from lower courts on misdemeanor cases.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE PROBATE COURT WORK?

The Probate Courts in Tennessee hold jurisdiction over cases that relate to wills, conservatorships, guardianships, and administration of estates. Probate courts do not hold trials by jury.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE GENERAL SESSIONS COURT WORK?

General Sessions Courts are considered courts of limited jurisdictions. Their jurisdictions vary from county to county with respect to the laws of the state and private acts in the community. General Sessions Courts hears both civil and criminal cases.

The criminal jurisdiction of these courts covers felony cases and misdemeanor trials in which the defendant waives the right to a grand jury investigation and trial by jury in Circuit or Criminal Court. Civil jurisdictions are limited to certain types of actions. Examples of the cases handled by the General Sessions Courts include:

  • Landlord/tenant, probate/estate, mental health, exclusive small claims (not more than $25,000)
  • Marriage dissolution, support custody
  • Traffic/other violations

General Sessions Courts also hear juvenile cases where Juvenile Courts are not established.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE JUVENILE COURT WORK?

Juvenile Courts in Tennessee are founded in line with the Tennessee Code on Juvenile Courts and Proceedings thereby establishing them as a court of record. The statute empowers the court to enforce its edicts like any other court of equity in the state enforces its orders. Such enforcements may include imprisonments and/or fine for contempt. The court's jurisdictions cover cases involving:

  • Adjudication of children as dependent and neglected, abused, status/unruly, or delinquent
  • Determination of custody
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Ordering of treatment, evaluation and/or commitment of a developmentally disabled or mentally ill children
  • The commitment of children to the custody of the Department of Children Services
  • Establishment of parentage
  • Ordering and enforcement of child support for children of unwed parents
  • Establishing visitation for non-custodial parents
  • Enforcement of the compulsory school attendance laws
  • Removal of the age restrictions on a minor's application for a marriage license
  • Giving of judicial consent to a minor's employment or enlistment in the armed services if the law requires such consent
  • Giving of judicial consent to the medical treatment of a child when his/her parents or guardians are unable to do so
  • Judicial authorization of an abortion without parental consent
  • Adjudication of alleged traffic violations by persons under the age of 18
  • Transfer of serious delinquency cases to criminal court for trial as adults

Tennessee defines a juvenile as anyone under the chronological age of 18 years. There are 98 juvenile courts in the state. 17 of these are classified as Private Act, meaning their jurisdictions may vary according to private acts in the county or community where they are established. The remaining 81 courts are general sessions courts with juvenile jurisdictions. There are 109 juvenile court judges and 45 magistrates in Tennessee. No jury trials are heard at the Juvenile Courts.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE MUNICIPAL COURT WORK?

Municipal courts are also courts of limited jurisdictions and also called City Courts. Municipal Court judges may be elected or appointed by the governing body in the city of establishment. The court's jurisdictions cover cases related to:

  • Traffic violations
  • Violation of city ordinances

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS WORK?

The Court of Criminal Appeals hears appeals from the trial courts in the state on felony, misdemeanor cases, and post-conviction petitions. There are 12 judges in the Court of Criminal Appeals. These judges sit monthly in panels of three to review appeals in Jackson, Knoxville, and Nashville. The judges may also meet in designated places as they determine.

Decisions from the Court of Criminal Appeals are reviewed by the Supreme Court by permission except in capital cases where appeals are heard automatically.

A ballot is held every 8 years to retain or replace members of the panel of judges. If half or more of the voters decide a member needs to be replaced, the Government will need to appoint a replacement with the consent of the legislature.

HOW DOES THE TENNESSEE COURT OF APPEALS WORK?

The Court of Appeals only hears appeals of civil cases. Appeals heard are from the lower courts in the state and certain state boards and commissions. Similar to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals consists of 12 judges divided into panels of 3. Judges hear appeals in Jackson, Knoxville, and Nashville. Sometimes, the judges also meet elsewhere as required.

The Court of Appeals judges are retained or replaced by voters every 8 years. Members who are not retained are replaced by a new appointment made by the Governor with the consent of the legislature.

HOW DOES THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE WORK?

The Tennessee Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. The court hears appeals of both civil and criminal cases from the lower courts as it deems fit. In situations where decisions are necessary to be expedited, the supreme court may take up the jurisdiction over undecided cases in the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court interprets the law and constitutions of Tennessee and the United States. Their opinion on federal constitutional issues may be appealed in the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court consists of 5 justices who meet in Jackson, Knoxville, and Nashville. Meetings may also take place in other locations as necessary.

HOW MANY CASES DOES THE TENNESSEE COURT SYSTEM HANDLE ANNUALLY?

Some 250,000 cases are filed in Tennessee's trial courts of general jurisdiction yearly. Over half of these cases are filed at the Criminal Courts. For example, in the 2018-19 fiscal year, a total of 292,883 cases were filed at these courts which represents 179,987 cases at the Criminal Courts, and 49,148 cases at the Circuit Courts. The rest include 57,390 filings at the Chancery Courts and 6,358 cases at the Probate Courts.

In the fiscal year 2018-2019, the Tennessee Supreme Court recorded a total of 954 appeal filings and granted 36 discretionary decisions. The figure further reveals that 35 of the appeal filings were heard by right, 727 by permission, and 192 were administrative (Bar matters). The Supreme Court recorded 878 orders and 59 opinions in a total of 937 dispositions.

There were a total of 939 appeals filed at the Tennessee Court of Appeals in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 830 cases of the filed appeals were heard by right, 105 appeal cases were heard by permission, while there were four cases initiating petitions of Writ of Mandamus. 14 of the filed appeals were granted as discretionary decisions. The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued 656 opinions and 366 orders totaling 1,022 appeal dispositions.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals recorded a total of 1,047 appeal filings and granted 9 discretionary appeals. Further analysis of the appeals filed with the court revealed 969 appeals heard by right, 41 cases heard by permission, and 37 case initiations of varying petitions. The court issued 765 opinions and 242 orders totaling 1,007 appeal dispositions.

Statewide Chancery Court Summary: Filings and Dispositions

Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2011-2012 62,393 61,449
2012-2013 59,471 59,641
2013-2014 58,426 57,503
2014-2015 57,251 55,307
2015-2016 58,047 68,928
2016-2017 58,087 60,612
2017-2018 57,701 58,385
2018-2019 57,390 58,504

Data provided by the Tennessee Judiciary

Statewide Probate Court Summary: Filings and Dispositions

Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2011-2012 5,433 5,532
2012-2013 5,410 5,228
2013-2014 4,764 5,214
2014-2015 4,670 4,409
2015-2016 5,527 3,752
2016-2017 5,822 3,835
2017-2018 5,632 3,474
2018-2019 6,358 3,445

Data provided by the Tennessee Judiciary

Statewide Circuit Court Summary: Filings and Dispositions

Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2011-2012 62,243 61,078
2012-2013 60,063 59,768
2013-2014 59,547 59,484
2014-2015 56,541 54,215
2015-2016 53,948 57,692
2016-2017 52,647 51,643
2017-2018 50,216 52,509
2018-2019 49,148 47,930

Data provided by the Tennessee Judiciary

Statewide Criminal Court Summary: Filings and Dispositions

Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2011-2012 172,979 173,330
2012-2013 166,568 167,607
2013-2014 163,607 157,756
2014-2015 158,827 155,810
2015-2016 171,067 163,487
2016-2017 155,311 151,996
2017-2018 174,715 158,668
2018-2019 179,987 168,407

Data provided by the Tennessee Judiciary

Appellate Courts Caseloads: The fiscal Years 2014 -2019

Supreme Court Court of Appeals Court of Criminal Appeals
Filings Dispositions Filings Dispositions Filings Dispositions
2018-19 954 937 939 1022 1047 1007
2017-18 1028 1003 1091 1021 1081 1135
2017-16 996 999 1091 1017 1194 1208
2016-15 1106 1193 1011 1090 1228 1193
2015-14 1132 1104 1029 1013 1294 1200

Data provided by the Tennessee Judiciary

First names in Tennessee