The Clerk of the Juvenile, General Sessions, and Circuit Courts is a constitutional office, elected by the people of Knox County for a four year term.
The Clerk has the responsibility for all administrative functions to support the Judges of the courts, keep all the documents pertaining to the courts, collect fees owed to Knox County through the courts, maintain record books and cases, and the dockets for each of the courts.
For the Juvenile Court, the Clerk's staff processes cases for court hearings, prepares arraignment notices, summons and process and subpoenas. This office gives notice to the child, parents, custodians, witnesses and any interested parties connected with the child's case, including legal publications for the newspaper.
General Sessions Court has a broad range of jurisdiction and is often the public's first introduction to the judicial process. The General Sessions Court is divided into five divisions, each served by an elected judge, the court deals with both criminal and civil lawsuits. Because it is not a "court of record" and provides no written transcripts of its proceedings, its decisions in all matters are subject to appeal. In matters involving civil law, the court has jurisdiction over complaints with a limited value under $25,000”; auto accidents; landlord/tenant disputes; certain health-related committals; county ordinance violations; miscellaneous “small claims disputes, and environmental codes violations.
The Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction with judges presiding over three divisions. Approximately 2400 cases are filed annually with the court. Filings include appeals from lower courts, auto accident, business disputes, condemnation, joint petition minor settlement, personal injury, workers compensation to name a few.
The clerk's office is funded by the Knox County Commission, although revenue is generated by fees for service; the actual fee for service is set by the Tennessee Code Annotated, meaning that the Tennessee General Assembly (the State Legislature) determines the amount of the fees the Clerk may charge for service.
The deputy-clerks of the Circuit Court are responsible for accepting the filing of lawsuits. After accepting filings, our clerks create case files, and monitor those new cases by accepting additional pleadings and filings, scheduling cases for motions, hearing, and trials and processing and maintaining all orders of the court.
To make our court system more efficient, Juvenile, General Sessions, and Circuit Court Clerk Catherine F. Shanks worked to transfer the criminal part of the General Sessions division to Criminal Court Clerk Martha Phillips. This was in keeping with Ms. Shanks's belief that the court system should work as smoothly as possible as well as a logical extension of the responsibilities delegated to each of the Clerks of the court. This improvement was ratified by the Knox County Commission and has been very helpful in managing the court system.