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Tennessee Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And Tennessee Crimes?

All offenses in the United States can be categorized into federal or state crimes. Federal Crimes are offenses that violate federal laws while state crimes in Tennessee violate state laws. Also, federal crimes involve inter-state connections and hence, require more in-depth investigation and resources that are beyond state and local jurisdictions. Such offenses are:

  • Bank robbery
  • Drug trafficking
  • Weapon charges
  • Crimes related to internet sex
  • Financial or white-collar crimes
  • Counterfeiting
  • Computer-related crimes such as hacking and email Scams

The criminal procedure of federal crimes are often similar to state crimes. However, the agencies and courts handling federal offenses are different from those of state offenses. For instance, federal agencies like FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Border Patrol, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), Secret Service, IRS (Internal Revenue Service), SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), and many more are tasked with investigating federal crimes.

In Tennessee, misdemeanors and felonies that violate the Tennessee Criminal Code are known asstate crimes. An offense is regarded as a state crime when it occurs within the state’s borders and legislative authority. Examples of these offenses are: burglary, homicide, murder, kidnapping, arson, theft, rape, simpe/aggravated assault, manslaughter, etc. Generally, state law enforcement agencies such as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and Tennessee Highway Patrol are responsible for investigating and prosecuting offenders.

How Does Tennessee Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?

Typically, federal courts handle criminal offenses related to federal laws while Tennessee state courts handle offenses committed against state laws. Nonetheless, the methods of prosecution at both court levels are identical. The U.S. president gets to nominate federal court judges while the nomination is validated by the U.S. Congress. These judges are appointed for life to decide cases that challenge the laws of the United States, investigate federal crimes and resolve litigation involving citizens across various states. Criminal cases that are resolved at federal courts are listed under the U.S. criminal code. Examples of such cases are copyright cases and bankruptcy cases. Federal court judges, known as District Court Judges, serve in the various U.S district courts in Tennessee and in other states as well. Prosecutors in a federal criminal proceeding are known as Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA). They are selected by the United States Attorney General. Federal agencies in the US are in charge of investigating federal crimes.

The Tennessee court system is divided into three tiers. The Tennessee Supreme Court is the highest court also known as the court of last resort and its decision is final. The Court of Appeal, created in 1925, serves as an intermediate appellate court responsible for reviewing cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court. Similar to the Supreme Court, there are no juries or witnesses required at the Court of Appeal. The trial-level courts have original, limited, and/or overlapping jurisdictions over varying degrees of civil and criminal cases. Other lower courts in Tennessee include: the General Sessions Courts, Juvenile & Family Courts, and Municipal Courts.

Tennessee state judges are selected via non-partisan elections or assisted appointments made by the State Governor with recommendations from a board or commission. Trial court judges may be selected through partisan or nonpartisan elections depending on the county.

How Many Federal Courts Are There In Tennessee?

There are three federal district courts and three bankruptcy courts located in the State of Tennessee. These include:

  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for Eastern District of Tennessee
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for Middle District of Tennessee
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for Western District of Tennessee
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

1. The Eastern District court in Tennessee, otherwise referred to as TNED, is located in four counties: Greeneville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Winchester.

James H. Quillen United States Courthouse

220 West Depot Street, Suite 200

Greeneville, Tennessee 37743

Phone: (423) 639 3105

Howard H. Baker, Jr. United States Courthouse

800 Market Street, Suite 130

Knoxville, Tennessee 37902

Phone: (865) 545 4228

Joel W. Solomon Federal Building, United States Courthouse

900 Georgia Avenue

Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402

Phone: (423) 752–5200

Federal Building - Post Office - Courthouse

200 South Jefferson Street

Winchester, Tennessee 37398

Phone: (423) 752 5200

2. The Middle District court in Tennessee, also known as TNMD, has three locations in Nashville, Columbia, and Northeastern Division.

U.S. Courthouse

Estes Kefauver Federal Building & Courthouse

801 Broadway, Room 800

Nashville, TN 37203

Phone: (615) 736 5498

U.S. Courthouse & Post Office Building

815 South Garden Street

Columbia, TN 38401

Phone: (615) 736 5498

L. Clure Morton U.S. Post Office and Courthouse

9 East Broad Street

Cookeville, TN 38501

Phone: (615) 736 5498

3. The Western District Courts in Tennessee (TNWD) has jurisdictions over 22 counties found in the western part of the state.

Western Divisional Office

167 N. Main Street, Room 242

Memphis, TN 38103

Phone: (901) 495 1200

Eastern Divisional Office

111 South Highland Avenue, Room 262

Jackson, TN 38301

Phone: (731) 421 9200

4. The Eastern Bankruptcy Courts in Tennessee (TNEB) is located in four counties: Greeneville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Winchester.

United States Bankruptcy Court

James H. Quillen United States Courthouse

220 West Depot Street, Suite 218

Greeneville, TN 37743 4924

Phone: (423) 787 0113

United States Bankruptcy Court

Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse

800 Market Street, Suite 330

Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: (865) 545 4279

United States Bankruptcy Court

Historic U.S. Courthouse

31 East 11th Street

Chattanooga, TN 37402–2722

Phone: (423) 752 5163

United States Bankruptcy Court

U.S. Post Office & Courthouse

Second Floor Courtroom

200 South Jefferson Street

Winchester, TN 37398

Phone: (423) 752 5163

5. The Middle Bankruptcy Courts in Tennessee (TNMB) has three locations in Nashville, Columbia, and Cookeville.

United States Bankruptcy Court

Middle District of Tennessee

701 Broadway, Room 170

Nashville, TN 37203

Federal Building and Courthouse

815 South Garden St.

Columbia, TN 38401

L. Clure Morton Post Office and Courthouse

9 E Broad St.

Cookeville, TN 38503

6. The Western Bankruptcy Courts in Tennessee (TNWB) has jurisdictions over 22 counties found in the western part of the state.

Western Divisional Office

200 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 500,

Memphis, TN 38103

Phone: (901) 495 1200

Eastern Divisional Office

111 South Highland Avenue, Suite 107,

Jackson, TN 38301

Phone: (731) 421 9200

7. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is located in the state of Ohio. The court hears appeals from Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan federal district courts.

Circuit Court of Appeals

Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse

100 East Fifth Street

Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Phone: (513) 564 7000

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Court records in the US are public records. This implies that citizens can inspect and make copies of the records. These files contain docket sheets, transcript of court proceedings and all other documents filed in federal cases. However, not all case files are accessible to the public. Sensitive information that violates a person’s privacy rights may be restricted by the court. Some records are also sealed based on the state constitution. Other key information such as the judge’s note, personal details of the witness/informants, and exhibits that are not used during the proceeding may be unavailable to the public.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Federal Court Records Online

The PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) provides online access to all federal court records in Tennessee. The unified system is created and maintained by the federal judiciary for quick and easy access to court files and docket information to the public. Requesters seeking federal court records online can only use PACER with their login details. As such, new users are required to register for a PACER account. Users of PACER can gain access to:

  • The details of all offenders and their representatives
  • Names of presiding judge and prosecutors
  • Compiled case-related information, such as causes of action, nature of the suit, and fines
  • Docket information which includes cases listed according to their date
  • Claims registry
  • Listing of new cases each day
  • Court opinions
  • Case status and final judgments
  • Types of documents filed for certain cases

Every Tennessee district court has its files kept and maintained locally. Therefore, not all records may be provided by the court, especially cases not within the district court’s jurisdiction. As such, it is best to contact the clerk of the district court before making payments for a case file. Requesters can also use the PACER Case Locator to search the location of case files. Questions on how to use the federal e-filing are available on the FAQ page of the website.

How To Find Federal Court Records In Tennessee?

In Tennessee, interested parties can obtain federal court records by visiting, mailing, or contacting the relevant clerk of the federal district courts. It is important to note that each district court Requesters should note that each federal district court maintains records of cases handled within its jurisdiction. As such, queries must be directed to the particular district that handled the case of interest. Archives and older federal records can be accessed by querying the Federal Records Center. The center charges $64 for the first archived court record requested. Each additional box or file attracts a fee of $39. Generally, the total costs to be covered is determined by the size and content of the documents of interest.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Tennessee?

It is possible to get a criminal case dismissed in Tennessee. This may occur when a defendant is acquitted of a crime, there is an error in the investigation, or the evidence that brought the defendant to court is insufficient. Cases qualified for dismissal are those that have passed the trial and prosecution processes. Prior to arraignment, there is no motion to get a federal crime dismissed in the state of Tennessee as well as in other states in the United States.

Dismissed cases are not expunged. This means that cases with insufficient proof may be reopened following new evidence. Whenever a case loses facts and data, the presiding judge may be prompted to dismiss and postpone the case indefinitely. In such scenarios, case files are moved to dead dockets by the clerk of court, pending when it is rendered active again by the judge.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Citizens with criminal history records are restricted from enjoying different social benefits such as jobs, housing, and government assistance. This is because employers can have access to these records as provided by constitution. However, some records may either be sealed or expunged to avoid collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Sealed or expunged records are restricted from public view. Sealing a federal record is different from expungement, but the results are often similar. A criminal history is typically sealed once the accused is acquitted of a crime. It is unusual to seal a record upon conviction and the district court judge must decide whether such a move is in the best interests of the constitution. To seal a criminal record, the legal counsel of the defendant must provide valid information showing that the record:

  • will not be useful in any future investigations
  • might be misused in the future
  • may put the community at danger

According to the U.S. Federal First Offender Act, offenders under 21 years old may have their record totally destroyed or expunged if they are only guilty of possessing a controlled substance and they don’t have any prior convictions. Also, U.S. Code § 5038 makes provision for sealing or restricting any juvenile records. Generally, criminal history records may be dismissed and sealed by the judge if:

  • The conviction is unconstitutional
  • There are some inconsistencies in government’s conduct during the proceeding
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