What type of cases are being heard in Tennessee's state trial courts?

J. H. Osborne • Apr 29, 2019 at 5:45 PM

Tennessee’s 95 counties are divided into 31 judicial districts. Within each district are circuit courts and chancery courts, as provided by the state constitution. Some districts also have legislatively established criminal courts and probate courts. For this week’s Civics 101, we take a look at what’s trending in these courts, based on figures for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) and how they compared to the year before.

Case filings

During the fiscal year, 202,898 cases were filed in Tennessee’s state trial courts.

Criminal cases accounted for approximately 46 percent of those, followed by domestic relations cases at 30 percent and civil cases at 25 percent.


Filings were down by 2,118 cases (1.05 percent) from the prior year. Criminal cases increased about 5.5 percent, civil cases decreased by less than 1 percent, and domestic relations cases decreased by more than 3.5 percent.

Biggest increase

Looking at all case types, the largest change in the number of filings from the prior year was seen for probation violations, which increased by 3,082 case filings.

Other changes

The other case types that exhibited a change greater than 1,000 case filings when compared to fiscal year 2017 are:

• Felony A and B cases increased (+1,237)

• Felony C, D, and E cases decreased (-1,151)

• Contempt case filings decreased (-1,737)

As compared to FY 2017, other noticeable changes in filings by case type are:

• Other Petitions, Motions, and Writs filings increased (+750)

• Other Petitions, Motions, and Writs — Prison Districts filings increased (+770)

• Divorce without Children filings decreased (-557)

• Probate/Trust filings increased (+482)

• Workers’ Compensation filings decreased (-452)

Source: Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury