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Tennessee Court Case Search — Find Your Lawsuit

Dena Standley | July 26, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: Find your Tennessee court records online for Supreme Court cases. For trial cases, you may have to contact your court clerk to check the status of your case or pay a visit to the courthouse to retrieve copies of the court records.

Summary: Search your Tennessee court records online for Supreme Court cases. For trial cases, you may have to contact your court clerk to check the status of your case or pay a visit to the courthouse to retrieve copies of the court records.

You can look up any public court case in Tennessee online. An "open court" case is one whose records are not confidential. Aside from accessing the documents filed in the case, you may also attend the proceedings if you want to, even when you are not a party to the case.

A few files are, however, grouped as private. You would have to be a party to the case to see such files at the clerk of court's office. A juvenile case, for example, is not public.

However, anyone can access most debt collection lawsuits, bankruptcies, and probate cases. You don't have to reside in Tennessee to see these documents. They are available to anyone countrywide.

There are several ways to look up a court case. We will look at those shortly, but first, let’s learn about Tennessee’s court structure.

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Understand Tennessee's civil court system

In order to find your case information online or in person, it’s important to understand how the civil courts are structured in Tennessee. When you know what courts have jurisdiction over certain types of cases, it will be easier for you to narrow down the court to which your case is assigned. In Tennessee, there are four levels of courts that deal with civil cases:

  1. Supreme Court: Tennessee’s court of last resort is the Supreme Court. The five judges accept civil and criminal appeals from the lower courts. They can decide on cases filed at lower appellate courts when there’s a need for a fast decision. Although the 5-bench judges may allow attorneys to present their arguments, there are no witnesses, testimonies, or juries. Appeals go to the 6th circuit of the US federal judiciary.

  2. Court of Appeals: The General Assembly in Tennessee created the Court of Appeals in 1925. It hears civil appeal cases from the trial courts and some state boards or commissions.

  3. Circuit Court/Chancery Court: These courts hear civil cases that are appealed from the General Sessions court. The 95 counties in Tennessee are divided into 31 judicial districts. Each district has Circuit and Chancery Courts.

  4. General Sessions Court: Civil cases heard by the General Sessions Courts are restricted to specific monetary limits and types of actions, which vary from county to county. Generally, cases that involve $25,000 or less are heard by the General Sessions Court.

So, if you’ve been sued for a debt you owe, it’s very likely that your case will be assigned to the General Sessions Court in your county. If not, it’s most likely in the Circuit or Chancery Court.

The graphic below further illustrates the Tennessee civil court structure:

Tennessee court structure

Ask the court clerk to check the status of your case

At the moment, Tennessee does not have a statewide court case search tool where you can check the status of your civil case online. But that doesn’t there is no way for you to check your case status.

Instead of looking online, try going to the courthouse in person or calling the court clerk to check on your case.

You can find your court clerk’s number on Tennessee’s Judicial Branch website. Go to the menu on the left side of the screen, click on the type of court in which your case is filed, then click on “Clerks” from the drop-down menu. From there, you should be able to find clerk contact information for your court.

Use the Tennessee Public Case History search tool to look up appellate cases

The Tennessee Court Case History search is a free-to-use tool. The records contain all cases in the Supreme Court, Appeals Courts, and Criminal Appeals Court filed after September 1, 2006. Records are updated at the end of each business day.

Using this tool, you can find the case status and procedural history, but not for civil cases from the Circuit Court, Chancery Court, or General Sessions Court.

To find your case, you need some information regarding the matter. It can be;

  • Case/docket number
  • The names of the parties
  • The style of the case, or
  • Business or organization name

Find a lawsuit using the docket number

The docket number is the number used to track a case. It is unique to every court case and appears on every document relating to the case once the number is assigned. For example, a lawsuit can have sequence number M2021-078921-COA-R3-CV.

To find that case using the docket number:

  • Go to Case Search
  • Select case number
  • Enter 78921
  • Click "Search"

The system will produce all cases with that number listed as the appeal number. You can quickly scroll down to find your lawsuit.

Use the names of parties in the court case

If you are party to the lawsuit, use your name to sift through the files. You can also find other cases by using the names of those involved in the case.

If, for example, Crazy Debt Collector is suing you (Mark Harris):

The system will return all cases with Mark Harris as a party to the lawsuit. Using both names narrows down the search. If you enter just one, the results may be too numerous to display, or you may have to search through many cases to find yours.

To search by the name of the business suing you, select Business/Organization and click "Search."

Search lawsuit by case style in Tennessee

If you are a defendant in the court case, you likely have the name of the case. Different courts may have different case styles. The simplest can be something like Harris v Crazy Debt Collector.

To find such a lawsuit:

  • Go to Tennessee court history
  • Select "Case Style"
  • Enter the case style name, for example; Harris v Crazy Debt Collector
  • Click "Search"

Searching by style quickly narrows down the search because you use the names of both parties.

Searching for civil court cases in the Tennessee trial courts

The case history tool discussed above only gives access to appellate cases. Debt collection cases are civil cases. SoHowever, if your debt collection lawsuit is still in the trial phase, you may need to search by county using your county’s court website.

You can use this Tennessee court directory to find your court online and call the court clerk for more information.

Respond to a debt lawsuit in Tennessee

If you’ve been sued for a debt you owe, SoloSuit can help you respond in minutes. The first step to winning your debt collection lawsuit in Tennessee is to respond to the case with a written Answer. In Tennessee, you have 21 days to respond before you lose by default. When you lose by default, the debt collector can garnish your wages or put liens on your property.

To learn more about how to Answer a debt lawsuit, check out this video:

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