Courts Where Tennessee Court Cases Were Tried

1796 - 1808

  • Any minor matter  -- Court of Common Pleas & Quarter Sessions
  • Any larger matter & all appeals --  Superior Court of Law & Equity

1809 - 1834

  • Any minor matter  --  Court of Pleas
  • Larger law cases  --  Circuit Court
  • Larger equity cases  --  Supreme Court  (see 1822-1834 also)
  • Appeals of law cases --  Supreme Court

1822 - 1824

  • Larger equity cases  -- Chancery Division of Supreme Court

1824 - Present

  • Business matters (not only disputes)  --  County Court
  • Any law case  --  Circuit Court (which divided into Civil & Criminal courts in some places after 1847. Criminal heard "State" cases and Civil heard cases between individuals.)
  • Any equity case  --  Chancery Court
  • Appeals of all cases  --  Supreme Court

Types of Cases Heard in the Courts after 1834

County Court: Appointment of administrators and guardians; reports of same; wills proved; widow's provisions laid off; road crews appointed; apprentices bound; wildcat/wolf bounties paid; paupers and "idiots" provided for; taxes adjusted.

Circuit Court: (Heard cases of LAW -- where laws had been broken and guilt or innocence was to be decided.) Civil Cases include debt, divorce, assault. State/Criminal Cases include theft, gambling, fighting, murder, bastardy.

Chancery Court: (Heard cases of EQUITY -- disputes in which court had to decide what would be fair to all parties.) Estate disputes; land and slave ownership disputes; business partnership dissolutions; division of property in divorces; incompetency rebuttals; claims against public officials.