Trial Courts

Trial Courts

Tennessee has 31 judicial districts. Each district has Circuit Courts and Chancery Courts.  In some parts of the state, there are separate Criminal Courts for all criminal cases.

Circuit Courts handle many different kinds of cases, including:

  • Civil,
  • Criminal, and
  • Appeals of Municipal, Juvenile, and General Sessions Court decisions.

Chancery Courts are different from other courts. The Chancellor (or judge) can make decisions based on what is fair. The Chancellor does not have to strictly follow the law. (please explain what kinds of cases they hear)

There are Criminal Courts in 13 of Tennessee’s 31 judicial districts. The Criminal Courts were added because of the heavy caseload in the Circuit Courts. For districts that have both a Circuit and a Criminal Court, the Criminal Court will hear all the criminal cases. The Criminal Courts also hear misdemeanor appeals of lower court decisions.

There are Probate Courts in two Tennessee counties (Shelby and Davidson). The Probate Court handles cases about:

  • Wills,
  • Estates,
  • Conservatorships, and
  • Guardianships.