Chancery Court


The chancery courts are the traditional trial level equity courts in Tennessee. Equity law deals with matters not traditionally addressed by the common law (case law) of the law courts or the statutory law. Equity acts when a traditional law court remedy is not adequate to reach a just result. In Tennessee, chancery courts have exclusive jurisdiction over some matters that are traditionally considered to be equity cases, but the statutory law has given chancery courts concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts over most civil cases.

The following acts form an outline of the development of equity jurisdiction in Sevier County, although they no longer have the force of law since they have either been superseded by general law, repealed, or failed to receive local ratification. Also referenced below are acts which repeal prior law without providing new substantive provisions.

1. For the first few years after Sevier County was created, the Chancery Court for the county was probably held at Greenville. The Supreme Court Justices held the Chancery Court and the entire state made up one Chancery district.

2. Acts of 1824 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 14, Page 41, Section 8, provided that the Judges of the Supreme Court should arrange to hold Chancery Court twice a year in all the counties of the State. Chancery Court would be held at Greenville for Carter, Washington, Cocke, Green, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties on the third Monday in May and November.

3. Acts of 1827, Chapter 79, Page 80, divided the State into two Chancery Districts. The Eastern District was composed of those courts held at Rogersville, Greenville, Kingston, Carthage, and McMinnville.

4. Acts of 1827, Chapter 88, Page 90, was almost a repetition of the 1824 (Ex. Sess.) Act, above. The Court at Greenville for Greene, Cocke, Washington, Jefferson, Carter, and Sevier Counties would be held on the third Monday in May and November and for two weeks, or longer, if the business of the court demanded it.

5. Acts of 1829, Chapter 27, Page 48, changed the Court dates for the Chancery Court at Greenville to the second Monday in May and November.

6. Acts of 1831, Chapter 127, Page 191, provided that the Chancellor of the Eastern Chancery Division would hereafter hold a Chancery Court at Knoxville on the third Monday in April and October for the Counties of Campbell, Anderson, Knox, and Sevier.

7. Acts of 1832 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 19, Page 32, changed the Court terms for some of the Courts in the Eastern Chancery Division but the Court at Knoxville would continue to meet on the third Monday in April and October.

8. Acts of 1835, Chapter 4, Page 32, divided Tennessee, into three Chancery Divisions and provided for the appointment of a Chancellor for each Division by the Legislature. The 5th District of the Eastern Division was composed of Jefferson, Cocke, and Sevier Counties. The Court for this District would meet at Dandridge on the first Monday in April and October.

9. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 116, Page 181, Section 12, rescheduled the terms of the Chancery Courts in the Eastern Division assigning the Court at Dandridge to the third Monday in June and December.

10. Acts of 1839-40, Chapter 21, Page 44, Section 7, changed the times for holding the Chancery Courts of the Eastern Division, 5th District, to the second Monday in June and December at Dandridge in Jefferson County. Section 12 of this same Act states that Sevier County shall compose one Chancery District and the court will be held at the courhouse in Sevierville and the second Monday in April and October of each year. This also repeals all other laws in Section 14 which made Sevier County a part of any other Chancery District.

11. Acts of 1843, Chapter 201, Page 225, Section 2, declared that theof Cocke County may file their Bills in Chancery at both Dandridge and Sevierville at their option and convenience.

12. Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 88, Page 96, divided Tennessee into the Eastern, Middle, Western, 4th, 5th, and 6th Chancery Divisions. Sevier County was in the Eastern Division with Court terms to begin in Sevierville on the second Monday in April and October.

13. Acts of 1859-60, Chapter 59, Page 267, changed the court terms for the Chancery Court in Sevier County at Sevierville to the third Monday in March and July of each year with the requirement that process be made to conform to those dates.

14. Acts of 1865, Chapter 7, Page 21, was a post Civil War Statute which created the 8th Chancery Division composed of Sevier, Blount, Monroe, Roane, Knox, Anderson, and McMinn Counties. A Chancellor would be appointed who would enjoy all the powers of other Chancellors and draw the same salary.

15. Acts of 1865, Chapter 14, Page 30, established Court terms for the counties in the 8th Chancery Division, listed above, and assigned Sevier County's Chancery Court to the second Monday in April and October. The Chancellor of his Division may interchange with the Chancellors of the others.

16. Acts of 1870, Chapter 32, Page 60, reorganized the lower system of equity courts of the State into twelve Chancery Divisions. The Second Chancery Division consisted of Knox, Sevier, Campbell, Union, Anderson, Roane, Monroe, Blount, Scott, Morgan, Fentress, and Christiana, if established.

17. Acts of 1870, Chapter 47, Page 81, scheduled the Court terms for the Chancery Courts of all the Counties. Sevier County would begin the terms of the Chancery Court on the second Monday in April and October.

18. Acts of 1872 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 15, Page 37, changed Court terms for some of the counties in the Second Chancery Division but left Sevier County's terms on the second Monday in April and October.

19. Acts of 1883, Chapter 85, Page 84, changed the starting days for the Sevier County Chancery Court to the fourth Monday in April and October instead of the second Monday. Conflicting Acts were repealed and process would be adjusted to conform to the changed dates.

20. Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.) Chapter 20, Page 96, divided the State into eleven Chancery Divisions. The Second Division was made up of Knox, Campbell, Sevier, Union, Anderson, Blount, Roane, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott Counties. Court terms in Sevier would begin on the fourth Monday in April and October. This Act was the basis for litigation in the case of Flynn v. State (1958), 203 Tenn. 341, 313 SW - 249, but only the criminal court in Memphis was involved.

21. Acts of 1887, Chapter 92, Page 182, changed court terms for several of the counties in the Second Chancery Division but left Sevier County on the fourth Monday in April and October.

22. Acts of 1899, Chapter 212, Page 456, abolished the Second Chancery Division of the State of Tennessee.

23. Acts of 1899, Chapter 214, Page 458, added Sevier, Blount, and Loudon Counties to the First Chancery Division and the remainder of those counties in the abolished Second Chancery Division were assigned to the 12th Chancery Division. Sevier County would continue to start the terms of Chancery Court on the fourth Monday in April and October.

24. Acts of 1899, Chapter 427, Page 991, reorganized the lower judicial system into ten Chancery Divisions. The Second Division was composed of Sevier, Blount, Loudon, Campbell, Anderson, Roane, Morgan, Scott, Union, Fentress, and Jefferson. Court terms would begin in Sevier County on the first Monday in January and July.

25. Acts of 1901, Chapter 438, Page 1050, amended the 1899 Act which reorganized the lower courts by placing Sullivan, Johnson, Carter, Washington, Unicoi, Greene, Cocke, Jefferson, Sevier, and Blount Counties in the First Chancery Division with Court terms commencing in Sevier County on the fourth Monday in April and October.

26. Private Acts of 1907, Chapter 382, Page 1286, changed the time for starting the terms of the Chancery Court in Sevier County to the second Monday in April and October instead of the fourth.

27. Public Acts of 1931 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 38, Page 267, also reorganized the lower Judicial structure of the State into fourteen Chancery Divisions. This Act placed Sevier County in the 13th Chancery Division where it still remains. The original counties in that Division were Cocke, Blount, Hamblen, Greene, Jefferson, Union, Grainger, and Sevier whose terms of Court would begin on the third Monday in April and October. Court changes would occur only through public acts from this date.


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