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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

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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.

Tennessee Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Tennessee legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

To avoid confusion and conflict, anyone who plans to lease property should have a Residential Lease Agreement. A residential lease documents the terms agreed to by a renter and a landlord. It includes specifics such as the rent amount, when rent is due, what happens if the rent is not paid on time, the length of the lease and the terms under which a security deposit is refunded. A residential lease may also include details regarding noise, lighting and subleasing the space.

If you die without making a will, the state of Tennessee will decide how your assets will be distributed. Creating a Last Will and Testament is the best way to make sure your possessions are distributed according to your wishes. Writing a will eliminates uncertainty about your desires and avoids family disputes. A will is also the best way to select a guardian if you have minor children.

Sometimes, people are reluctant to appoint a Power of Attorney, but there are several benefits in doing so. A POA designates another person to make decisions or sign documents on your behalf. It can be general or restricted to specific situations; either way, it ends if you die or become unable to make decisions. A durable POA, however, is still valid if you become incapacitated. You can have a durable medical and financial POA. All of the above documents are available for free here at LawInfo.

Starting a Tennessee Business

The thought of becoming a successful business owner can be daunting, but a number of resources can provide guidance. The Tennessee Department of Revenue helps you navigate the state’s legal requirements. Tennessee Smart Start, a small-business guide, provides information on all aspects of business, from selecting a name to buying an existing business.

Tennessee Business Statistics

More than 78 percent of Tennessee workers are in the private sector. Ranked fourth in a national study on entrepreneurial activity, Tennessee has an economy driven by small businesses, which represent 97 percent of employers.

Nine Fortune 500 companies are also located in Tennessee; prominent companies include FedEx (FDX), Dollar General (DG) and AutoZone (AZO). Foreign investments include 133 Japanese, 439 European and 71 Canadian businesses.