Circuit Court


The circuit court is the traditional trial level "law" court (as opposed to equity court) with broad civil and criminal law jurisdiction. Traditionally, the circuit courts (the "law" courts) applied the common law (case law) and the statutory law. The circuit courts continue to act as law courts, but Tennessee's statutory law has given the circuit courts concurrent jurisdiction with the chancery courts in most civil matters. Circuit courts exercise criminal law jurisdiction as well as civil law jurisdiction in most counties in Tennessee, but in some counties a separate criminal court has been established.

Sevier County, by general law found in ยง 16-2-506 of Tennessee Code Annotated, is part of the 4th judicial district. Title 16, chapter 10 of Tennessee Code Annotated contains the general law applicable to the circuit court. Judges and chancellors are covered by title 17 of Tennessee Code Annotated.

The following acts were once applicable to the circuit court of Sevier County but now have no effect, having been repealed, superseded, or having failed to win local approval. Also referenced below are acts which repeal prior law without providing new substantive provisions.

1. Acts of 1794, Chapter 12, Page 93, provided that Sevier County, newly created, would become a part of the Hamilton District for all purposes both civil, for courts, and military, and be just as much a part as it was before being taken from the counties of Jefferson and Knox.

2. Acts of 1809, Chapter 49, Page 65, divided Tennessee into five Judicial Circuits of which the Second Judicial Circuit was made up of Cocke, Jefferson, Sevier, Blount, Knox, Anderson, Roane, Rhea, and Bledsoe counties. Circuit Courts would be held twice annually and in Sevier County this would occur on the fourth Monday in January and July. The Judge of the Circuit would appoint a Clerk for each of the courts over which he was to preside.

3. Acts of 1833, Chapter 201, Page 110, made it the duty of the Judge and the Attorney-General of the Second Judicial Circuit to examine, certify, and allow under the existing law of the State, the bill of costs the State is liable to pay in the case of State v. Thomas D. Allen, which was decided in Sevier County during the year of 1828.

4. Acts of 1835-36, Chapter 5, Page 38, divided Tennessee into eleven Judicial Circuits with provisions for holding Court three times a year. The Second Judicial Circuit was made up of Cocke, Jefferson, Sevier, Blount, Knox, Campbell, Anderson, and Morgan Counties. Circuit Court terms in Sevier County would commence on the fourth Monday in January, May, and September. Chancellors and Circuit Judges were to be paid a salary of $1500 per year.

5. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 3, Page 12, organized the State's lower civil judicial structure into fourteen Judicial Circuits. The 12th Judicial Circuit consisted of Cocke, Sevier, Jefferson, Grainger, Claiborne, and Campbell counties. Court terms in Sevier would begin on the fourth Monday in April, August, and December.

6. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 116, Page 181, Section 8, changed the time for holding the Circuit Court in Sevier County to the second Monday in April, August, and December. The terms for the other counties in the Circuit were also changed.

7. Acts of 1839-40, Chapter 5, Page 13 provided that the terms of the Circuit Court in Sevier County would begin on the first Monday in April, August, and December and continue for two weeks, or longer, at each term, or until the business of the court was completed.

8. Acts of 1851-52, Chapter 352, Page 643, Section 3, stated that the Circuit Court for Sevier County would begin on the third Monday of March, July, and November, and if necessary, continue for two weeks.

9. Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 98, Page 110, reorganized the Circuit Courts of the State into sixteen Judicial Circuits. The Second was made up of Campbell, Claiborne, Union, Grainger, Cocke, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties whose Court sessions would start on the third Monday in March, July, and November.

10. Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 112, Page 283, stated in the preamble that a fire had destroyed the courthouse in Sevierville in March, 1856, which destroyed many valuable papers and the Reports of the State. The Clerk of the Circuit Court has since bought another set of Reports and is willing to sell them to the county at his cost. This act authorizes the Comptroller of the Treasury to issue a draft for $150 to M. W. McCown to pay for the set of Reports which would become the property of the Circuit Court Clerk's office in Sevier County.

11. Acts of 1870, Chapter 31, Page 59, divided Tennessee into 15 Judicial Circuits. The Second Circuit was composed of Cocke, Jefferson, Grainger, Union, Sevier, Scott, Campbell, Claiborne, and Hamblen counties.

12. Acts of 1870, Chapter 46, Page 75, scheduled the terms of the Circuit Court for all the counties in the State. Sevier County, in the Second Judicial Circuit, would start on the third Monday of March, July, and November.

13. Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 20, Page 96, created fourteen regular and one special judicial circuits in the State. The Second Judicial Circuit had in it the counties of Claiborne, Campbell, Grainger, Union, Hamblen, Jefferson, Cocke, Anderson, and Sevier, whose terms of court would commence on the third Monday in March, July, and November. This act was the subject of litigation in Flynn v. State (1958), 203 Tenn. 341, 313 SW2 249, but only involved the court at Memphis.

14. Acts of 1897, Chapter 223, Page 530, detached Sevier County from the Second Judicial Circuit for criminal court purposes and attached it to the criminal District for Knox County. The act made it the duty of the Judge of the Criminal Court of Knox County to hold the court and the District Attorney of the same District shall attend Court and prosecute cases.

15. Acts of 1899, Chapter 427, Page 991, reorganized the entire number of Circuit Courts into fourteen Judicial Circuits. The Second Circuit was made up of the Counties of Jefferson, Grainger, Hamblen, Cocke, Morgan, Scott, Campbell, Anderson, Union, Fentress, and Sevier whose court terms , presumably for Civil cases only, would begin on the third Monday in January, May, and September.

16. Acts of 1899, Chapter 409, Page 966, Section 4, predates Chapter 427, Acts of 1899, above, and conferred the Circuit Court jurisdiction of Sevier County upon the Law Court of Knox County along with all of the Knox County criminal jurisdiction. Sevier County would hold her courts on the first Monday in January, May, and September.

17. Private Acts of 1903, Chapter 227, Page 496, changed the court terms for all the counties in the 2nd Judicial Circuit switching Sevier Coutny to the first Monday in March, July, and November.

18. Private Acts of 1905, Chapter 101, Page 216, amended Chapter 227, Acts of 1903, above, by changing the starting dates for several terms of the Circuit Court in the Second Judicial Circuit. Sevier County went from the first to the third Monday in March, July, and November.

19. Private Acts of 1905, Chapter 477, Page 1015, again changed the beginning dates for the Circuit Court terms for counties in the Second Judicial Circuit, assigning Sevier County to the fourth Monday in February , June, and October.

20. Private Acts of 1907, Chapter 205, Page 750, changed the schedule of the Circuit Court terms in Sevier County to the first Monday instead of the fourth Monday in February, June, and October.

21. Private Acts of 1923, Chapter 15, Page 41, changed the starting dates for the terms of the Circuit Court in Hamblen and Sevier Counties which went to the first Monday in March, July, and November. All bonds and process would be adjusted to fit those dates.

22. Public Acts of 1931 (2nd Ex. Sess.), Chapter 18, Page 169, corrected some errors which were made when the General Assembly amended the 1932 Code with reference to the Second Judicial Circuit. The correct counties were Cocke, Union, Sevier, Jefferson, Grainger, and Hancock with Sevier starting its terms on the first Monday in March, July, and November.

23. Public Acts of 1931 (2nd Ex. Sess.), Chapter 38, Page 267, reorganized the lower judicial structure of the State into twenty Judicial Circuits. The Second Circuit consisted of Cocke, Union, Jefferson, Grainger, Hancock, and Sevier counties. Court days in Sevier remained on the first Monday in March, July, and November.

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