Navigating the appeals process can be tricky and emotional, like your life is still not in your hands because it’s tied up in the courts.

At Harrington Law we’ll help provide a way to resolution, walking with you throughout the process, guiding, preparing and advocating on your behalf. A overview of  the appellate court system in Tennessee:

There are three different court systems that handle appeals in Tennessee.  Each has a different purpose.

  • Intermediate appellate courts, decide if the trial court did something wrong.
  • The highest appellate court, the Supreme Court interprets laws and makes or corrects earlier court decisions.
  • Local Circuit courts can also act as appellate courts, correcting decisions made by juvenile court judges, administrative law judges, General Sessions court judges, or other similar types of decision-makers.

Courts of Appeal – Intermediate Appeals Courts

The Court of Appeals hears most appeals of civil cases from lower courts. The Court of Appeals meets in Knoxville, Nashville and Jackson, hearing cases originating in the lower courts from that grand division of the state. The Court of Appeals does not take testimony or hear evidence- it is not a “do over.”  It reviews what happened in the trial court by reviewing transcripts and evidence submitted there, and the lawyers on each side submit written briefs and sometimes there is oral argument, where the attorneys appear and answer questions from the bench.  Cases not decided on the spot, but written opinions come out afterwards. 

Supreme Court – The Highest Appeals

The highest appellate court in Tennessee is the Supreme Court, located in Nashville (but occasionally meeting in other cities).  The Supreme Court is the final word on Tennessee law.  It chooses which cases it takes—you can’t just file an appeal, you have to ask that it take your case and give a reason why it should (the exceptions, where the Court must grant review, are those involving the death penalty, disciplinary actions against attorneys and tenure of teachers).

The highest appellate court chooses cases because among other things:

  • There is a “hole” in the law that needs repair;
  • The world has changed and an older Supreme Court decision no longer really applies;
  • A law passed by the Tennessee legislature has been challenged based on Tennessee’s Constitution.