Tennessee Court Records

Why Tennessee Court Records are Available to the Public

In 1957, the Tennessee State Legislature passed a law named the Tennessee Open Records Act. This law enables the last changes in 2008 and aims to make sure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The law is similar to the Tennesse Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are held. The Tennessee Open Records Act intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted Tennessee Open Records Act, it expressively declared that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, Tennessee Open Records Request. Tennessee’s Open Records Act opens government records to citizens of Tennessee. Found in Chapter 7 of Title 10, the act directs the courts to construe the act so as to give the fullest possible public access to public records. By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Tennessee Open Records Act is intended to safeguard the accountability of government to the public.

How the Tennessee Court Process Functions?

Most cases in Tennessee courts begin in one of the 95 superior or trial courts in the state’s 95 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state to check decisions of the Court of Appeals to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below


Small Claims



Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

The filing fee for either the defendant or the plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Discovery allowed



How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and asks the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Tennessee Courts Interpreter Search page. Also, see the web page with interpreter information on this website COURT INTERPRETERS.

How Tennessee Court Records Are Structured?

The court records group is for civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $150,000. Close to 175,000 civil court records filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Employment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $25,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 100,000 of small claims cases filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
Tennessee State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Tennessee Knox County Courthouse 1903

Tennessee Knox County Courthouse 1903

  • State archives hold over 40,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • There are 3 grand divisions in Tennessee Court of Appeal.
  • There are 2 intermediate appellate courts in Tennessee: The Court of Criminal Appeals and The Tennessee Court of Appeals.
  • There are 31 circuit courts in Tennessee, one in each of the 31 judicial districts.
  • The highest court in Tennessee is the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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