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Local Rules – Rutherford County General Sessions Court Civil Division

Rule 1.00 Applicability and Suspension of Rules

1.01 Former Rules Void

All former rules of local practice except as readopted herein are void.

1.02 Applicability

Each rule is applicable in all General Sessions Court, Civil Division, proceedings in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Each rule is applicable in all types of cases unless otherwise indicated by a particular rule.

1.03 Suspension of Rules

Whenever the Court determines that justice requires it, the Court may suspend any of these rules.

Rule 2.00 Appearance of Counsel

2.01 Counsel of Record; Entry of Appearance

Counsel must be licensed in Tennessee in order to practice law or represent others. A non-licensed person will not be permitted to represent anyone else in court without prior consent of the Court pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Corporations, L.L.C.s and other legal entities must be represented by an attorney licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

All counsel who have entered an appearance in a case will be counsel of record. Counsel shall enter an appearance at the earliest practicable time by notifying opposing counsel and the clerk’s office.

2.02 Withdrawal of Counsel

Prior to entry of a judgment or disposition in General Sessions Court, no attorney shall be allowed to withdraw except for good cause and leave of court upon motion after notice to his/her client and opposing counsel or party if without counsel.

2.03 Conduct of Counsel

Counsel shall be properly attired when attending Court which shall include proceedings which may appear less formal such as name changes or probate matters.

Counsel should encourage parties to proceeding to dress appropriately for Court. If necessary, the Court may address issues of attire of the parties to counsel or adjourn court until such time as the attire of the parties is appropriate.

During trial, counsel shall not exhibit familiarity with witnesses or opposing counsel and shall not use first names for adults. Counsel, parties and witnesses shall be expected to conduct themselves with appropriate decorum at all times in the courtroom.

When addressing the Court, counsel shall introduce herself/himself to the Court.

Counsel shall stand while examining witnesses, addressing the Court, or making objections. Unless excused by the Court, all persons addressing the court from positions other than the witness stand should be standing.

Counsel who anticipate being late for court shall promptly notify the Clerk of the Court, the Judge’s Law Clerk and the opposing party or counsel.

Counsel shall notify the Clerk of the Court in writing at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to a docket call of any event which requires that the matter be removed from the docket (i.e. settlement, nonsuit, agreement to continue, etc.). Failure to do so will cause the matter to be called in open court. Please contact the Judge’s Law Clerk regarding specially set matters.

Counsel shall file all pleadings, warrants, etc. to be set on the regular Tuesday or Friday civil docket with the Clerk of the Court at least five (5) days prior to the docket call date.

Counsel shall file any Orders to be considered by the Court within five (5) days of any hearing and/or agreement.

Rule 3 Filing and Service of Papers*

3.01 Filing Counter-Complaints, Companion or Third-Party Civil Cases

All counter-complaints, companion or third-party civil cases shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court. Upon the filing of any civil action which is related to a pending action in General Sessions Court (e.g. cross warrant to third party complaint), the party filing such companion case shall note that the new warrant is a companion case to a pending General Sessions case. Upon the hearing of a matter which is a companion case to another case, counsel shall indicate to the Clerk of the Court and the Court that such case is a companion to another existing case. All counter-complaints, companion or third-party cases shall be consolidated for trial with the original action.

*See attached Memo re: Service of Process

*This court adheres to T.C.A. Sec. 29-18-115. In particular the court will enforce the provision pertaining to posting thereby requiring plaintiff to post or cause to be posted on the front door or other front portion of the premises a copy of the publication notice at least fifteen (15) days prior to the date specified therein for the defendant to appear and make a defense.

*See attached Memo re: Body Attachments and Bonds

3.02 Filing of Briefs or Memoranda of Law

All briefs or memoranda of law shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court, and a copy shall be delivered to the Judge in open court or in the General Sessions office in the Courthouse to the Judge before whom the case is pending and a copy contemporaneously mailed to the opposing counsel or party.

Rule 4.0 Setting Cases

4.01 Setting of Cases

Cases shall be tried on the date they are set on the court’s docket unless, for good cause shown, they are continued to a date certain on the court’s regular civil docket on Tuesday or Friday. In the event it is determined by the parties and the court that a matter will take more time than is appropriate for trial on the court’s regular civil docket on Tuesday or Friday, then the matter may be specially set. Counsel and/or parties desiring a specially set date must appear on the court’s regular civil docket on Tuesday or Friday and ask the Court for a specially set date. The Court has discretion to grant or deny the request. The Judge’s Law Clerk does not have authority to give out or set specially set dates prior to the matter being called in court.

In civil actions the court may liberally grant a continuance on the first setting of a case.

Rule 5.0 Continuances

5.01 Continuances on Regular Civil Docket on Tuesday or Friday at 9:00 a.m.

A case on the court’s regular docket on Tuesday or Friday may be reset to another Tuesday or Friday regular docket by agreement of the parties, provided, however, that such agreed upon date does not exceed sixty (60) days. Any agreement exceeding sixty (60) days shall require the approval of the court. In such instances, a letter shall be sent to the Clerk of the Court specifically stating that the case is being reset by agreement and by sending a copy of the letter to the opposing party or counsel as well as to the Judge’s Law Clerk. Letters resetting matters shall be received by the Clerk of the Court twenty-four (24) hours prior to the court date; otherwise, the matter will be called in open court.

The Court’s goal is to complete all cases within sixty (60) days from the issuance of the original civil warrant.

6.02 Multiple Continuances

After a civil case has been set on the court’s docket three times and has been continued, whether by agreement or for good cause, the case shall be tried.

No cases will be continued indefinitely. In the event collection efforts are facilitated by delayed continuances, the court will consider a party’s motion for continuance for an extended period of time; however, the case will be reset on the court’s regular Tuesday or Friday docket.

In the event a bankruptcy is involved, counsel and/or the Court shall reset the matter to a definite date on the regular Tuesday or Friday docket.

Rule 7 Nonsuits

When a defendant satisfies a civil judgment prior to the court date by paying monies into the clerk’s office and the plaintiff’s attorney takes a nonsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney shall prepare an order entering formal written notice of nonsuit and requesting disbursement of funds.

In the event pending cases on the court’s regular docket on Tuesday or Friday are to be dismissed or are subject to nonsuit, such matters may be communicated directly to the Clerk of the Court who will cause an Order to be entered dismissing the case.

Rule 8 Dismissals

8.01 Slow Pay Motions

When the moving party on a slow pay motion fails to answer at the first call of the docket, such motion shall be subject to dismissal at the expiration of 20 minutes after the commencement of the docket call.

Upon a Motion made within ten (10) days of dismissal and notice to the opposing party or counsel, the Movant may request that the dismissal be set aside and the matter heard. After ten (10) days, a new Slow Pay Motion must be filed with the Clerk of the Court.

Rule 9 Negotiations and Settlements

9.01 Settlement Discussions

During or at the end of the first docket call, all parties and attorneys shall be allowed a brief opportunity to discuss possible settlement of their cases before trial. The court shall advise those present in the courtroom of the opportunity to discuss settlement with the opposing part or the opposing lawyer. The court shall also advise those present that a trial will be given to them if the parties or the lawyers are not able to agree on a settlement and that they are not required to settle their cases.

As a courtesy to attorneys having several cases on the court’s docket, the court will allow those attorneys to take their civil warrants, meet with the defendants present and enter all agreements on the civil warrants for the court’s approval. Said attorneys shall complete all other warrants for defendants not present in court as default judgments for the court’s approval. After completion of all civil warrants as agreed, by default, or otherwise as appropriate, attorneys shall return said warrants to the court for calling at the conclusion of the docket and approval by the court. Once warrants have been returned to the Court, attorneys are not excused from the courtroom until so advised by the Judge or his Law Clerk.

9.02 Judgments

All judgments which contain more than a single element must list damages and attorney’s fee separately before the total. The parties are encouraged to have copies of this information for opposing parties at trial to expedite the understanding of the parties’ claim.

The court will consider motions for attorney’s fees on a case by case basis; however, good cause must be shown to exceed a fee of 25% of the amount to be collected.

Private process fees should be presented to the court to be included in the principal amount of the judgment. All other costs of courts should not be included in the principal amount of the judgment and they will be added by the Clerk of the Court automatically.

(Reserved for further provisions regarding itemization of elements of default judgments)

9.03 Minor Settlements

In all cases where the parties propose to settle a personal injury claim brought on behalf of a minor, the court shall conduct a chambers hearing at which the minor and his/her guardian are present. At such hearing, plaintiff’s counsel shall provide the court with documentation reflecting the medical expenses incurred in connection with the claim, and describing the minor’s present medical condition.

Rule 10 Docket Information

10.01 Civil Dockets

Civil dockets are heard on Tuesday and Friday at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 303.

Matters that are to be heard upon a special setting will be heard in Courtroom 303.

11.00 Interpreters

11.01 Interpreters in Civil Court

Interpreters are not provided or paid for by the Court in civil matters. Persons needing interpreters should bring a friend who is able to translate from their language to English and from English to their language so as to enable the Court to best be able to determine how the language issues need to be addressed.

The above stated Local Rules are hereby in effect as of July 1, 2010.

Approved by:
Larry D. Brandon, Judge
General Sessions Court, Part III
Rutherford County, Tennessee
20 Public Square N., #301
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

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Memo re: Service of Process

TO: All Lawyers and/or Parties serving civil warrants, writs and other process

RE: Service of Process

We are experiencing problems with the returns being made on warrants in General Sessions, Part III.

Process servers, constables, and attorneys are encouraged to review the following statutes before serving civil warrants, writs or other papers:

T.C.A. Section 7-3-503
T.C.A. Section 8-8-216
T.C.A. Section 16-15-901
T.C.A. Section 16-15-902
T.C.A. Section 16-15-903
T.C.A. Section 16-15-904
T.C.A. Section 16-15-905

The Court is especially interested in being able to learn from the warrant the following:

1. Person or Persons served;
2. Date served; and
3. Name, address, and phone number of Process Server if an individual and the badge number and law enforcement agency is the server is in law enforcement.

Please help make certain that these issues are addressed in the future.

Dated: June 10, 2009

Larry D. Brandon, Judge
General Sessions Court, Part III
Rutherford County, Tennessee
20 Public Square N., #301
Murfreesboro, TN 37130


Memo re: Body Attachments and Bonds (PDF)

Body Attachment

TO: All Lawyers and/or Parties issuing Body Attachments

After a discussion with Rutherford County Sheriff Truman Jones, I now understand some of the problems relating to body attachments. Although a body attachment is issued by the civil court, it has attributed of both a civil and criminal matter and the Sheriff is required to treat the order accordingly.

1. The Sheriff is required to treat an attachment, to the extent that it requires the defendant to be taken into custody, as a criminal matter. In criminal matters, in order to avoid liability, the Sheriff’s office must have appropriate identifiers (i.e. DOB and/or SSN) to be certain that the correct person is detained in jail pending the making of bond as in any other case. The Sheriff must have enough information to confirm that the correct person is being detained.

2. When a body attachment is sent to another county to be executed, the Rutherford County Sheriff also treats the attachment as a criminal matter. The Rutherford County Sheriff (through the Rutherford County General Sessions Clerk) must have a copy of the attachment with the appropriate identifiers before they can accept custody of a defendant from another jurisdiction who has been detained on a Rutherford County body attachment. The Clerk should serve a copy of all body attachments on the Rutherford County sheriff with notice that the original has been sent to another jurisdiction.

3. The Sheriff requires a proper address on the body attachment to be used to execute the address. It is suggested that this information along with other identifiers be located on the order in an apparent location to aid the Sheriff in the search for the defendant.

4. All body attachments must now provide for bond to be made as in any other criminal case. In the past, we have allowed for a “Cash Only Bond,” however, the Attorney General has indicated that the Sheriff has a duty to allow bond to be made according to statutes as in any other case. A cash bond is permitted; however, the Sheriff of this County or such other county which executes the attachment has authority to dictate the form of the bond. No defendant should be held for an unreasonable amount of time on any Rutherford County General Sessions Court, Part III, Civil Body Attachment without the issue of bond being addressed by the Sheriff or the General Sessions Court.

Dated: June 10, 2009

Larry D. Brandon, Judge
General Sessions Court, Part III
Rutherford County, Tennessee
20 Public Square N., #301
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

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