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Washington County, Tennessee Justice of the Peace



Tennessee Justices of the Peace were officers of the state's county court system, a system that provided the justices concurrent jurisdiction with their peers of the Chancery Courts. Prior to Tennessee's 1835 Constitution two justices were appointed by the governor for each "captain's company"--a militia unit arbitrarily assigned to a county by the state legislature, commanded by a captain who was appointed by its eligible male constituency, and utilized as a distinct voting district for elections and tax collecting--and when a company included the county seat the number of appointments could not exceed three. The 1835 state constitution replaced this system of judicial appointments with an electorial process that required each civil district to elect their justices. In both systems the justices were required to legally "qualify" for their elected or appointed positions, and they were restricted from holding any other public office during their tenure. They were also required to reside in their civil district for their full terms of office.

Justices of the Peace heard civil cases of common law involving less than $l,000 and equity involving less than $50. They also decided misdemeanor cases if the fine was less than $50. The bulk of a justice's responsibilities centered around issuing warrants and subpoenas for all courts including civil court warrants for forcible entry, debt, and trespassing and criminal court warrants for first degree murder, manslaughter, rape, burglary, larceny, counterfeiting, forgery, assault with intent to kill, and conspiracy.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Washington County, Tennessee Justice of the Peace Form Judgement and Execution Docket is now in the Washington County Archives in Jonesborough, Tennessee. For information and access, call 423-753-0393

Identifier: AppMs-0215
Scope and Contents The Washington County, Tennessee Justice of the Peace Form of Judgment and Execution Docket contains an account of cases tried before several Washington County, Tennessee justices between 1843 and 1872. The ledger identifies case number, date, names of plaintiffs and defendants, amount of the suit or judgment, name of the returning officer, date of execution, and court costs. The docket identifies several 19th-century Washington County justices including Justices Enoch Kincheloe, Samuel B....
Dates: 1843-1872