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Overview of the Tennessee Court System

Tennessee is divided into 31 judicial districts; each district has chancery and circuit courts. Some districts also have probate and criminal courts. Each county has a General Sessions Court that hears civil and criminal cases. Jurisdiction is limited and varies in each county.

Chancery courts handle issues such as disputes, lawsuits and name changes. Adoptions, divorces and other civil issues can also be handled in circuit courts. Circuit court judges hear appeals from juvenile, general session and municipal courts. Criminal cases are tried in criminal courts; if a district does not have a separate criminal court, cases are tried in the applicable circuit court.

Probate courts handle wills, estates and guardianships while municipal courts handle traffic violations and code violations such as junk vehicles or high weeds. Tennessee has 98 courts that handle juvenile issues; 17 are designated juvenile courts, and 81 are general sessions courts that have juvenile jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals handles civil appeals as well as appeals from state commissions and boards. Twelve justices sit in panels of three. Nine justices on the Court of Criminal Appeals hear felony and misdemeanor cases as well as post-conviction petitions.

Five justices sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court. They handle cases involving constitutional issues with Tennessee and United States law; they may also choose to hear appeals of decisions made by the lower courts in criminal and civil cases. In some cases, the Supreme Court may assume jurisdiction over the appellate courts if a quick decision is needed.

Tennessee Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Tennessee attorney by location and by practice area. We have Tennessee attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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