In the early days of Tennessee, the court system differed from what we know today. The local County Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions presided over minor civil matters (below $50) in each county whereas the Superior Courts of Law and Equity presided over disputes involving sums $50 or greater, criminal matters and appellate matters. By 1809 this system had become unwieldy. In 1810, the Superior Court of Law and Equity was reorganized with criminal matters and larger civil cases being transferred to newly created local circuit courts with appellate matters retained in the renamed Supreme Court of Errors & Appeals. Criminal matters were heard in the Knox County Circuit Court until 1870 when a Criminal Division of the Circuit Court was created to handle the criminal charges. This Criminal Division became an independent court by decree of the legislature on March 31, 1907.
Today, the Knox County Circuit Court hears civil cases and appeals of decisions from Juvenile, Municipal, and General Sessions Courts. The jurisdiction of circuit courts often overlaps that of the chancery courts.
The Knox County Circuit Court index is a work in progress. The court records were completely unorganized when the Knox County Archives was established and much work has gone into properly separating and organizing these papers and books. We are just now to the point where we can begin indexing the records and only a limited number are currently entered in the database. This index will be updated on a regular basis and should improve dramatically as time passes.
Copies of the original records can be obtained from the Knox County Archives. Please contact us by phone or e-mail for a price quote.