Tennessee's state court system features four different trial courts in which a case may begin: (1) Circuit Courts, (2) Chancery Courts, (3) Criminal Courts, and (4) Probate Courts. Circuit Courts have the original authority to hear civil and criminal cases of any type. In Nashville, however, some authority has been shifted to other courts.
In addition, each county may create other courts to serve its individual needs. In District 20 (Nashville and Davidson County), the General Sessions Court (GSC) hears civil, criminal, traffic and ordinance violation cases. The civil suits may only involve up to $15,000 or $25,000 in alternative money judgments, or landlord-tenant disputes. The criminal proceedings are limited to preliminary hearings of all cases, and trials for which the possible penalty is less than a year. Nashville's GSC also features mental health court and treatment courts.
The region also has a number of judges and magistrates (attorneys with a judge’s delegated authority) serving in the Juvenile Court and Municipal Court. See Tennessee’s Judicial District Map for more information on judges, magistrates, and courts within District 20.