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Enabling Legislation

CHAPTER No. 426
SENATE BILL NO. 1046


By Person

Substituted for: House Bill No. 205

By Kent, Byrd, Haley, Dixon


AN ACT Relative to the number of divisions and judges created by the "General Sessions Criminal Court Act of 1981" and to amend Chapter 772 of the Public Acts of 1982.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. This act is local in effect and becomes effective in a particular county upon its approval by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the county legislative body of any county approving this act.

SECTION 2. Chapter 772 of the Public Acts of 1982 is amended by adding the following to the end of Section 2:

There is created an additional division to the general sessions court of any county to which this act applies. The additional division shall have the same terms of court, the jurisdiction and powers as are now exercised by General Sessions Court of Shelby County, and in addition shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving alleged violations of county ordinances, including alleged violations of environmental ordinances. The court shall hereinafter be referred to as the county's environmental court. The additional division shall hold court in the county seat and the county shall defray the expenses thereof from the county general fund.

The office, powers, duties and responsibilities of the clerk of the general sessions court shall be enlarged to include the work of the additional division, and the clerk, or his designee, shall attend the additional division when it is in session.

The District Attorney General of the 30th Judicial Circuit is hereby granted the power and authority to appoint a sufficient number of assistants to serve at the will and pleasure of such district attorney general in order to serve the additional division of the general sessions court of the county. Compensation of such assistants shall be determined by the mayor of the county with the approval of the county board of commissioners. Compensation of such assistants shall be paid from the general fund of the county in such periodic installments as shall be fixed by the county board of commissioners.

SECTION 3. Chapter 772 of the Public Acts of 1982 is further amended by inserting the following new paragraph between the second and third paragraphs of SECTION 8. The office of general sessions judge of the additional division is created. The first judge of the additional division of the general sessions court of any county to which this act applies shall be elected by the board of commissioners of the county. In the regular August 1992 election some person, qualified by law, shall be elected judge of the additional division, shall take office on September 1, 1992, and shall hold office until September 1, 1998. At the regular August election in 1998 some person, qualified by law, shall be elected judge of additional division for a full term of eight (8) years and thereafter the office shall be filled at the same time, for the same term, and in the same manner as the other divisions of the general sessions court of the county. The judge of such additional division shall exercise all of the powers and receive the same compensation as do the other general sessions judges of the county. In addition to other powers granted herein, the judge of the additional division is hereby granted the power to issue injunctions, both mandatory and prohibitory, such power to be exercised as provided for in Rule 65 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and is hereby empowered to order any defendant found guilty of violating any ordinance relating to health, housing, fire, land subdivision, building or zoning to correct such violation at the defendant's own expense. The judge of the additional division shall devote all of his working time to the duties of his office and shall not engage in the practice of law during the tenure of his office. In all cases involving the alleged violation of any ordinance relating to health, housing, fire, land subdivision, building or zoning, the judge of the additional division shall have the power to appoint masters in aid of the Court. The appointment, powers and duties of such masters shall be as set forth in Rule 53 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.

The judge of the additional division shall have the power to punish any person for contempt who, having been ordered to correct a violation of any county ordinance relating to health, housing, fire, land subdivision, building or zoning, willfully fails to obey such order within the designated day and at the designated time as given by such court order. The punishment for contempt in each such case is limited to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) and imprisonment not exceeding five (5) days for each such violation.

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the judge of such additional division of the county general sessions court shall have the jurisdiction to try and dispose of violations of municipal ordinances pursuant to the terms of an intergovernmental agreement between the city government and the county government; provided, that a certified copy of all ordinances of the city to be enforced pursuant to such intergovernmental agreement shall have been filed with the judge of the division. The judge shall direct the clerk of the general sessions court that all fines collected pursuant to judgments rendered in cases of city ordinance violations shall be paid over to the city and au court costs provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 16-15-703(d), to help administer the cost of enforcement, provided that reasonable costs have been set by ordinance of the city.

SECTION 4. All other provisions of Chapter 772 of the Public Acts of 1982 shall be applicable to the division of general sessions court created by this act.

SECTION 5. The provisions of this act shall be applicable to any county with a population in excess of six hundred thousand (600,000), according to the 1970 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

SECTION 6. No funds from the state general fund shall be obligated or expended to implement the provisions of this act.

SECTION 7. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.

SECTION 8. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

PASSED: May 13, 1991

Signed by:

John S. Wilder, Speaker of the Senate,

Jimmy Naiflh, Speaker House of Representatives

APPROVED: May 22, 1991

Signed by:

Ned McWherter, Governor


Vasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building • (901) 222-2300
160 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103
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