Tennessee Chancery Courts - Annual report statistics for Tennessee Chancery Courts in fiscal year 2011-2012

Posted on Aug 12 2013 9:40PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Each year the Tennessee Judiciary publishes an annual report discussing the Tennessee judiciary.  This report provides detailed statistical information about Tennessee courts and the cases they handle and resolve.  The fiscal year, 2011-2012, report is the most recent report that has been released.  This post will discuss some of the statistics for Tennessee Chancery Courts. 




In fiscal year 2011-2012, there were a total of 62,392 cases filed in Tennessee Chancery Courts.  That is one Chancery Court case per 103 residents of Tennessee (2012 TN population was 6,456,243).  There are approximately 17,203 lawyers in Tennessee so that means there were a total of 3.62 Chancery court cases filed per Tennessee attorney (did you file your share?).  Of note to Tennessee litigators specifically, the following are the total number of cases filed in Tennessee Chancery Courts pertaining to specific types of cases involving litigation type matters:


            Probate/trust issues                                                      10,689

            Miscellaneous general civil                                           7,160

            Contract/debt/specific performance                            3,133

            Worker’s compensation cases                                      2,625

            Real estate matters                                                       1,173   

            Damages/torts                                                              69

            Medical malpractice                                                      0


These numbers show what many lawyers already know to be true.  Damages/torts cases are almost always filed in Circuit Court, not Chancery Court.  Additionally, probate and trust matters consist of approximately 17% of the Tennessee Chancery Court caseload.


It is also interesting to look at the trend line for total number of cases filed in Tennessee Chancery Courts.  Specifically, the total number of filings since fiscal year 2005-2006 through the present are as follows:


            2005-2006                                                                     68,567

            2006-2007                                                                     66,994

            2007-2008                                                                     63,256

            2008-2009                                                                     64,715

            2009-2010                                                                     64,631

            2010-2011                                                                     62,721

            2011-2012                                                                     62,392


The numbers have been on a pretty consistent path downward and I expect that to continue for years to come.  One major change starting in July 2014 that will further reduce this number is the fact Tennessee Workers Compensation cases will no longer be filed in Tennessee courts but will rather be handled by an administrative process at the Tennessee Department of Labor. 




In the fiscal year 2011-2012, 61,448 cases were disposed of by the State of Tennessee Chancery Courts.  This is only slightly behind the number of cases that were filed (resulting in an increase of 944 pending cases in Tennessee Chancery Courts for the 2011 – 2012 fiscal year). 


The following dispositions were made in Tennessee Chancery Courts that resolved:


            Court approved settlement                                         27,133

            Trial – non-jury                                                            9,351

            Dismissal                                                                      8,419

            Compromise/settlement – no hearing                        7,314

            Uncontested/default                                                   4,719

            Other                                                                           2,621

            Withdrawn                                                                   1,465

            Transferred                                                                  406

            Trial – jury                                                                    20


Almost half of the resolved cases were disposed of by a court approved settlement.  Surprisingly, 15% of Chancery cases were disposed of by a non-jury trial.  Only 20 jury trials occurred in Tennessee Chancery cases in this fiscal year.

TAGS: Tennessee Workers Compensation, Tennessee Legal Statistics
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com