Category: Courts & Councils

John Sellars vs. James M. Kinder

By , May 13, 2011

At Knoxville

Seduction. Evidence. The father’s claim for damages for the seduction of his daughter, and the allowance made under the bastardy laws to the daughter for the support of the bastard child, are separate and distinct things. The one cannot be used as a bar to, or in mitigation of the damages justly arising under the other. Thus, in an action by the father for the debauching of his daughter, it is error to permit a receipt for the sum paid by the defendant to the daughter, under the bastardy allowance for the support of the child, to be read in evidence, when the plaintiff was in no way connected therewith, although such receipt purported to be in full acquittance of all claim for damages on account of the seduction.

From Grainger

This action on the case is from the Circuit Court of Grainger county. At the December Term, 1857, before Judge Turley, verdict and judgment were for the defendant. The plaintiff appealed in error.

Shields, for the plaintiff.

Fletcher and J. R. Cocke, for the defendant.

Wright, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

This was an action on the case brought by the plaintiff in error for the seduction of his daughter, on the trial of which, verdict and judgment were rendered against him. His motion for a new trial being overruled, he filed a bill of exceptions, and has appealed in error to this Court.

The defendant pleaded not guilty and accord and satisfaction, upon which the plaintiff took issue. The latter plea was not sustained by the proof.

It appeared in evidence, that the defendant, on the proceedings and application of Sarah M. Sellars — the debauched daughter — in the County Court of Grainger county, had entered into bond and security that the bastard children should not become a county charge.

This appears to have taken place on the 7th of July. 1857. How long this proceeding on the part of the daughter, to have the defendant convicted as the father of her children, had been pending in the County Court, does not appear in the record. But on the trial in the Circuit Court, the defendant read in evidence a receipt executed by Sarah M. Sellars to him, bearing date of the 19th of May, 1857, in which she acknowledged the payment to her by Kinder of $90, in consideration of all damages, either at law or in equity, which she had sustained in the way of sickness, loss of character, loss of time, loss of charges, or other special or general damages, on account of the bearing, birth, and raising of the two male children—named Enoch Tilman and Enos Tilford—of which the defendant was the father; and she waived and released any and all right or power which she had, or might have, to bring any suit or suits against the defendant because of his being the father of said children.

To this receipt the plaintiff was no party, and the proof failed to connect him with it in any way. The Circuit Judge, in his charge to the jury, permitted this receipt, and the payment of the $90, to go in mitigation of damages. This was error. No two things can well be more distinct than the father’s claim for damages for the seduction of his daughter, and the allowance made the mother for the support and maintenance of her hastard children. The one cannot he used as a bar to, or in mitigation of the damages justly arising under the other. Whether we regard this receipt as a settlement of the allowance due the mother under the bastardy acts, or of any other claim which she might be supposed to have against the defendant, it was alike inadmissible and irrelevant against the claim of the plaintiff for damages.

Reverse the judgment, and remand the cause for a new trial.

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Source:

Head, John W., comp.  Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee During the Year 1858 [to 1859], Volume 1.  Nashville:  J. O. Griffith & Co., Printers (1860), pp. 134-136.

Private Acts: Court System — Juvenile Court

By , April 28, 2011

The Juvenile Court Restructure Act of 1982, as amended, is codified in Tennessee Code Annotated §§37-1-201 through 37-1-214.  Its purpose is to provide adequate juvenile court services in every county.  Tennessee Code Annotated §37-1-203 provides that the general sessions courts shall exercise juvenile court jurisdiction except in counties or municipalities wherein juvenile courts are specially provided for by law.

Special juvenile courts may be created by law (private act) to exercise juvenile court jurisdiction in a county or in contiguous counties. Counties must provide funding for such special juvenile courts.  T.C.A. §37-1-205.

Clerks of general sessions courts are required to maintain separate minutes, dockets, and records for all juvenile matters in those counties in which the general sessions court is also the juvenile court.  T.C.A. §37-1-210.  The clerk of a special juvenile court is a duly elected clerk of another court in the county designated by resolution of the county legislative body, except where a duly elected clerk is provided by law (private act or charter).  Clerks of the special juvenile courts are given the same duties, authority and obligations provided for clerks of other courts of record.  T.C.A. §37-1-211.

Tennessee Code Annotated §37-1-159 provides that the juvenile court shall be a court of record.  Any appeal from final disposition of a case, except the transfer of a child to be dealt with as an adult under T.C.A. §37-1-134, may be made to the circuit court for a trial de novo.

Private Acts: Court System — General Sessions

By , April 28, 2011

The general statutes on courts of general sessions are found in title 16, chapter 15 of Tennessee Code Annotated.  The purpose of this general law is to create a statewide system of general sessions courts, but T.C.A. §16-15-501(c) expressly provides that counties may create general sessions courts by private act, giving them both the jurisdiction and powers conferred by general law and such further jurisdiction and power as each county may require.

Private Acts: Court System — District Attorney General

By , April 27, 2011

The office of district attorney general, including assistant district attorneys and criminal investigators, is covered by title 8, chapter 7 of Tennessee Code Annotated.  Section 16-2-506 of T.C.A. establishes the judicial districts of the trial courts and establishes the number of assistant district attorneys general and criminal investigators in each judicial district.  According to T.C.A. §16-2-506, Grainger County is in the 4th judicial district.  Secretarial assistance to district attorneys is authorized, but subject to the approval of the executive director of the district attorneys general conference, the comptroller of the treasury, and the commissioner of finance and administration.  T.C.A. §8-26-101(2)(G) – (1)(K).

The following acts once affecting Grainger County are no longer in effect but are listed here for historical purposes.

  1. Acts of 1817, Chapter 65, established solicitorial districts throughout the state.  The counties of Hawkins, Grainger, Claiborne and Campbell composed the second solicitorial district.
  2. Public Acts of 1931, Chapter 64, created the office of assistant attorney general in Grainger County, which at the time was in the second judicial circuit.
  3. Public Acts of 1975, Chapter 253, created the office of one additional assistant district attorneys general for Grainger County, which at the time was in the second judicial circuit.
  4. Public Acts of 1977, Chapter 377, created the office of full time assistant district attorney general for Grainger County, which at the time was in the second judicial circuit.

Private Acts: Court System — Criminal Court

By , April 27, 2011

In some counties of Tennessee, a separate criminal court has been established which has the criminal law jurisdiction of the circuit courts.  The criminal court has appellate jurisdiction over criminal law matters decided in the general sessions courts.

The criminal court of Grainger County, by general law found in §16-2-506 of Tennessee Code Annotated, is part of the 4th judicial district.

For the general law pertaining to criminal courts, see title 16, chapter 10 of Tennessee Code Annotated.  For the general law pertaining to criminal court clerks, see title 18, chapter 4 of Tennessee Code Annotated.

The following acts once pertained to the Grainger County Criminal Court, but are no longer current law.

  1. Public Acts of 1867-68, Chapter 49, repealed the above act as to Jefferson, Cocke, Grainger and Claiborne counties.
  2. Public Acts of 1867-68, Chapter 90, created a judicial criminal district composed of Johnson, Carter, Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Hancock, Greene, Cocke, Jefferson, Grainger and Claiborne counties.
  3. Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 20, set the time for holding the Grainger County Criminal Court to the fourth Mondays in April, August and December.
  4. Public Acts of 1899, Chapter 427, set the time for holding the criminal court in Grainger County to the first Monday in February, June and October.
  5. Private Acts of 1939, Chapter 482, set the compensation of the criminal court clerk at $1,000 per annum.

Private Acts: Court System — Chancery Court

By , April 27, 2011

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.

Grainger County, under the provisions of §16-2-506 of Tennessee Code Annotated, is part of the 4th judicial district.  The general law on chancery courts is found in title 16, chapter 11 of Tennessee Code Annotated, and title 17 applies to judges and chancellors.

The following acts form an outline of the development of equity jurisdiction in Grainger 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.

  1. Public Acts of 1824, Chapter 14, provided that the supreme court hold chancery court for the counties of Sullivan, Hawkins, Grainger and Claiborne.
  2. Public Acts of 1835-36, Chapter 4, established chancery courts in the state.  The counties of Grainger, Claiborne and Campbell composed the fourth chancery district and held court at Tazewell on the fourth Mondays of February and September.
  3. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 116, changed the times of holding chancery court in the state.  The chancery court of Grainger County was set to the first Mondays of June and December.
  4. Acts of 1847-48, Chapter 97, provided that Grainger County would compose a chancery district and that the court would be held at Rutledge on the first Mondays of May and November of each year.  This act was subsequently amended by Acts of 1847-48, Chapter 220, to provide that court would be held on the third Monday in June and December.
  5. Public Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 88, prescribed the times and places of holding chancery court in the state. The Grainger County Chancery Court was set to the third Mondays of June and December at Rutledge.
  6. Public Acts of 1865-66, Chapter 41, set the time for holding chancery court in Grainger County on the third Mondays of April and October.
  7. Public Acts of 1870, Chapter 32, divided the state into chancery districts.  The first chancery district was composed of the counties of Grainger, Johnson, Carter, Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Greene, Hancock, Claiborne, Jefferson, Cocke, Powell and Hamblen.
  8. Public Acts of 1870, Chapter 47, fixed the time for holding the chancery courts of the state.  The chancery court of Grainger County was set for the third Mondays of April and October.
  9. Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 20, divided the state into chancery division.  The first chancery division was composed of the counties of Grainger, Johnson, Carter, Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Greene, Hancock, Claiborne, Jefferson, Cocke, Hamblen and Unicoi.  The Grainger County Chancery Court was set for the third Mondays in April and October.
  10. Public Acts of 1891, Chapter 165, amended Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 20, by changing the times of holding the chancery court in the first chancery division.  The chancery court of Grainger County was changed to the first Monday in May and November.
  11. Public Acts of 1893, Chapter 100, provided for the creation of a new chancery division to be composed of Sullivan, Hawkins, Hamblen, Grainger, Claiborne, and Hancock counties.  The time for holding said court was set to the fourth Monday and November for Grainger County.
  12. Public Acts of 1895, Chapter 14, changed the time for holding chancery court in Grainger County to the second Monday in March and September.
  13. Public Acts of 1899, Chapter 427, divided the state into chancery divisions and set the time for holding the same.  The chancery court of Grainger County was placed in the first chancery division and was held on the third Monday in May and November.
  14. Private Acts of 1901, Chapter 438, amended Public Acts of 1899, Chapter 427 by placing Grainger County in the second chancery division and changing the times of holding said court to the second Mondays in April and October.
  15. Private Acts of 1919, Chapter 342, changed the time for holding chancery court in Grainger
    County to the third Mondays in February and August.
  16. Public Acts of 1919, Chapter 100, created the thirteenth chancery division which was composed of the counties of Grainger, Blount, Cocke, Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier and Union.  The time of holding the chancery court of Grainger County was set for the third Monday in January and July.
  17. Public Acts of 1920, Chapter 5, created the thirteenth chancery division composed of the counties of Blount, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier and Union and fixed the time for holding chancery court to the third Monday of January and July for Grainger County.
  18. Public Acts of 1931 (2nd Ex. Sess.), Chapter 38, divided the state into chancery divisions.  Grainger County was placed in the thirteenth chancery division in which the chancery court was set for the fourth Mondays in May and November.
  19. Public Acts of 1935, Chapter 148, provided that the chancery court of Grainger County be held by the judge of the second judicial circuit, times of which were held on the second Mondays of May and November.
  20. Public Acts of 1963, Chapter 371, created the fifteenth chancery division which was composed of the counties of Greene, Hamblen, Union and Grainger. The chancery court of Grainger County was held on the fourth Monday in May and November.

Private Acts: Board of Jury Comissioners & Jurors

By , April 27, 2011

All private acts creating county boards of jury commissioners were repealed by §22-2-201
of Tennessee Code Annotated, except in Davidson, Knox and Hamilton counties.  The general statutes dealing with jurors and juries can be found in T.C.A. title 22.  County boards of jury commissioners are described in T.C.A. §22-2-201, and the qualifications of a juror are listed in T.C.A. §22-1-101.

The following acts once affected jurors or boards of jury commissioners in Grainger County,
but are no longer operative.  Also referenced below is an act which repealed prior law without
providing new substantive provisions.

  1. Acts of 1796 (1st Sess.), Chapter 28, placed the new county of Grainger in the Hamilton
    District and set the number of jurors required to be sent to the superior courts of law and
    equity of Hamilton District.
  2. Acts of 1797, Chapter 7, apportioned the number of jurors each county of those comprising the Hamilton District should return to the superior courts of law and equity of said district. Grainger was required to return five.
  3. Acts of 1798, Chapter 21, increased the number of jurors Grainger County was required to furnish the superior courts of law and equity of Hamilton District to seven.
  4. Acts of 1801, Chapter 59, apportioned the number of jurors required of each county for the superior courts of law and equity of Hamilton District. Grainger County was required to send four.  This act was repealed by Private Acts of 1978, Chapter 163.
  5. Private Acts of 1923, Chapter 298, created a board of jury commissioners for Grainger County.
  6. Private Acts of 1955, Chapter 374, set the pay of the members of the board of jury commissioners in Grainger County to $6.00 per day.

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