Private Acts: Court System — 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.

Grainger County, by general law found in §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The following acts were once applicable to the circuit court of Grainger County but now have no effect, having been repealed, superseded, or having failed to win local approval.

  1. Acts of 1809 (1st Sess.), Chapter 49, divided the state into five judicial circuits, placed Grainger County in the first circuit and gave the circuit court jurisdiction in all matters and causes at common law and in equity.
  2. Public Acts of 1835-36, Chapter 5, established circuit courts throughout the state.  The first judicial circuit was composed of the counties of Grainger, Greene, Washington, Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Hawkins and Claiborne. The circuit court of Grainger County was held on the third Monday of April, August and December.
  3. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 3, amended Public Acts of 1835-36, Chapter 5.  The circuit court of Grainger County became part of the twelfth circuit along with the counties of Cocke, Sevier, Jefferson, Grainger, Claiborne and Campbell.
  4. Acts of 1837-38, Chapter 116, changed the time of holding circuit courts of the state.  The circuit court of Grainger County was set to the fourth Mondays of April, August and December.
  5. Public Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 98, prescribed the times of holding the circuit courts of the state. The Grainger County Circuit Court was set for the fourth Mondays of April, August and December.
  6. Public Acts of 1870, Chapter 31, laid the state off into judicial circuits.  The second circuit was composed of the counties of Grainger, Cocke, Jefferson, Union, Sevier, Scott, Campbell, Claiborne and Hamblen.
  7. Public Acts of 1870, Chapter 46, fixed the time for holding the circuit courts of the state.  The circuit court for Grainger County was set for the fourth Mondays in April, August and December.
  8. Acts of 1885 (Ex. Sess.), Chapter 20, divided the state into judicial circuits.  The second judicial circuit was composed of the counties of Grainger, Campbell, Claiborne, Union, Hamblen, Jefferson, Cocke, Anderson and Sevier. The time for holding the circuit court of Grainger County was set for the fourth Mondays in April, August and December.
  9. Public Acts of 1889, Chapter 117, changed the time of holding circuit court in Grainger County to the first Mondays of April, August and December.
  10. Public Acts of 1899, Chapter 427, divided the state into judicial circuits.  Grainger County was placed in the second judicial circuit along with Jefferson, Sevier, Hamblen, Cocke, Morgan, Scott, Campbell, Anderson, Union and Fentress.  The circuit court for Grainger County was set for the first Monday in February, June and October.
  11. Acts of 1903, Chapter 227, set the times for holding circuit courts in the second judicial circuit; Grainger County’s times for holding circuit court remained the same as set in Public Acts of 1889, Chapter 117.
  12. Acts of 1905, Chapter 477, reset the times for holding courts in the second judicial circuit; Grainger County times remained the same as set in Public Acts of 1889, Chapter 117.
  13. Acts of 1907, Chapter 205, reset the times for holding courts in the second judicial circuit; Grainger County times remained the same as set in Public Acts of 1889, Chapter 117.
  14. Public Acts of 1931 (2nd Ex. Sess.), Chapter 38, divided the state into judicial circuits.  Grainger County was placed in the second judicial circuit in which the time for holding the circuit court was set for the first Monday in April, August and December.
  15. Public Acts of 1951, Chapter 17, fixed the time of holding the circuit court of the second judicial circuit.  The circuit court of Grainger County was set for the third Mondays in April, August and December.
  16. Public Acts of 1955, Chapter 19, fixed the time of holding the circuit court of the second judicial circuit. The circuit court of Grainger County was set for the third Monday in April, August and December.
  17. Public Acts of 1959, Chapter 99, fixed the time of holding the circuit court of the second judicial circuit. The circuit court of Grainger County was set for the third Monday in April, August and December.

Private Acts of 1969
Chapter 162

SECTION 1.  That regular terms of the Circuit Court of Grainger County, with general jurisdiction to try and dispose of civil and criminal cases, shall continue to convene and be held on the Third Monday in April, August, and December of each year as now provided by law; and that, in addition to such regular terms, monthly terms of said Circuit Court shall convene and be held on the Third Monday of each and every month of the year, with jurisdiction to try and dispose of all civil cases within the jurisdiction of said Circuit Court as now defined by law, except cases in which a jury trial shall have been or shall be regularly demanded.

SECTION 2.  That all leading process hereafter issuing from said Circuit Court in civil cases shall be made returnable to the next Third Monday of the month coming five or more days after the issuance of such process; and if, on the return day of such process, or in the first pleading tendering an issue, or on the first day of any term at which the case shall stand for trial, a jury trial shall be demanded, then the case shall automatically go over to the next regular term of said Circuit Court as distinguished from said monthly terms, and shall stand for trial in the regular way.

SECTION 3.  That the jurisdiction of said Circuit Court at said monthly terms herein provided for shall be limited to the trial of non-jury cases, cases appealed from Justice of the Peace  Courts, divorce cases and other cases involving domestic relations, equity cases coming within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts under the general law, and to the hearing and disposition of all issues and questions arising on demurrers, dilatory pleas, motions, and applications to amend pleadings in any civil case pending in said Court.

SECTION 4.  That this Act shall be liberally construed and interpreted, and its provisions are hereby declared to be severable. If any of its sections, provisions, sentences or phrases are held to be unconstitutional or void, the remainder shall remain in full force and effect, it being the legislative intent now hereby declared that this Act would have been adopted and passed even if such unconstitutional or void matter had not been included herein.

SECTION 5.  That all laws or parts of laws in conflict with this Act be and the same are hereby repealed.

SECTION 6.  That this act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.

Passed: May 7, 1969

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