Reference Number: 
CTAS-2052

Circuit and Criminal Court Records. The records included in this schedule are those for the offices of the Circuit and Criminal Courts, and, to a lesser degree, the General Sessions Courts. They are divided into different sections based on the type of record. Other records specific to the General Sessions Court and Juvenile Court are found in separate schedules in this manual. Records that may be kept in the same format by several county offices (such as employment records, purchasing records, etc.) will be found listed under topical retention schedules in this manual. Included in this table is a listing of “obsolete” records. Your office should no longer be generating these records. They are still included in the disposition schedule so that anyone discovering those materials in older records of the office will know how to deal with them. To a certain extent, the records kept by county offices vary from county to county in either the format of record kept, the name given to the record, or the frequency of its occurrence. This is particularly true of court records which may vary according to local rule and practice and especially confusing concerning the varying forms of docket books that courts may have utilized over the years. The fact that a certain record is listed in this schedule does not necessarily indicate that you should have it in your office. It may be a format for record-keeping that was never utilized in your county, or you may keep the record under a different name. If you have records in your office that are not listed in this schedule by name, check the descriptions of the records to see if we may have called it by a different term. If you still cannot locate any entry relative to the record, contact us at the County Technical Assistance Service for guidance in determining the proper disposition of the record and so that we can make note of that record’s existence to include it in future revisions of this manual.

 

Retention Schedule for Circuit and Criminal Court Clerks

Description of Record

Retention Period

Legal Authority/Rationale

A.  Civil Action Files

04-001 Briefs—Statements of the case, legal theory and arguments for a party in a case.

Maintain for three years after final disposition of case, then notify parties and destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(b).

04-002 Civil Actions, Record of—All original process and rules, pleadings, judge's opinions and orders, if any, in each civil case.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-003 Discovery Records, Civil Cases—Interrogatories, depositions and other legal devices to obtain information concerning a case prior to trial.

Maintain for three years after final disposition of the case, then destroy after notice is given to parties.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202.

04-004 Doctor’s Depositions in Worker’s Compensation Cases

See Trial Exhibits and Evidence, below.

04-005 Judge’s Opinions—Statements by the judge of the decision reached in regard to a cause heard before him relating the law as applied to the case and giving reasons on which the judgment is based.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-006 Summonses—A writ notifying a person that a court action has been commenced against him, and that he is required to appear on a day named and answer the complaint in such action.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-007 Trial Exhibits and Evidence—Any documentary  evidence and exhibits presented at trial that become part of the record of the case. For physical evidence, see T.C.A. § 18-1-206.

Retain 10 years after final judgment, then destroy unless local rule of court provides for a different retention period.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

B. Bonds

04-008 Appearance and Bail Bond Records—Bonds and recordings of bonds executed by defendants and sureties showing defendant's name, name of person serving as surety, amount of bond, and signatures of the accused and sureties.

Retain 10 years after final judgment, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-009 Attachment and Injunction Bonds—Bonds executed in attachment and injunction cases insuring defendant against damages likely to occur as a result of wrongful suing, showing date of bond, names of principal and sureties, amount of bond, condition of the obligation, and signatures of principal and sureties.

Retain 10 years after final judgment, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-010 Cost Bonds, Civil Cases—Bonds executed to insure payment of court costs, showing names of plaintiff and defendant, amount and date of bond, condition of the obligation, and signatures of principal and sureties.

Retain three years after final judgment, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(b).

04-011 Miscellaneous Bond Books—Receivers', indemnifying, appearance, cost, refunding, replevin, etc., bonds, showing names of principal and sure-ties, style of case, amount and date of bond, condition of the obligation, and signatures of principal and sureties.

Retain 10 years after release, replacement or expiration of all bonds in book, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-012Prosecution Bonds—Bonds  executed  by  persons instituting suits in circuit and criminal court, by virtue of which they assume all responsibility of judgment and costs that may be taxed to them, show

Retain 10 years after final judgment, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

C.  Criminal Action Files (See also Process, Court Orders, Writs, Etc.)

04-013 Criminal Actions, Record of—All original process, case papers and documents in criminal cases, including judge's orders, in both felony and misdemeanor cases.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-014 Detainer Warrants—Instrument authorizing the keeper of a prison to keep a person in custody.  Shows name of person in custody, length of time to be detained, and signature of issuing official. Exception: Records of DUI offenses.

Retain 10 years, then destroy; however, records of DUI convictions should be kept 20 years.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a)

T.C.A. § 55-10-403(a)(3) allows for prior DUI convictions up to 20 years before an offense to be used to enhance sentencing as a multiple offender.

04-015 Indictments or Presentments by Grand Jury—   These records show name of defendant, return date of indictment, and nature of offense charged therein.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-016 Recordings of Criminal Proceedings—   Verbatim recordings of preliminary hearings entry of plea by the defendant as required by Tenn. Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules 5.1 and 11.

Retain 10 years after final judgment and exhaustion of appeals, then get court order to authorize destruction.

T.C.A. §§ 18-1-201 and 18-1-202(a).

04-017 Summons, Criminal—A writ notifying a person that a criminal proceeding has commenced against him and that he is required to appear in court at a stated time and place.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

D.  Dockets [NOTE: Dockets are kept in varying formats in different courts. Not all of the following dockets may  be found or kept in your court. Much of the information may be combined into one docket or maybe be kept electronically pursuant to T.C.A. § 10-7-121. Except for Mental Health and Adoption Dockets, most other dockets may now consolidated into a single docket. The fact that separate listings are given for dockets below does not mean that these records must be kept separately.]

04-018 Alimony and Child Support Dockets/Ledgers—

Docket/ledger shows date alimony or child support paid to court clerk, date paid out by him or her, name of person to whom paid, and amount.

Retain 25 years after last entry, then destroy.

Retention period based on period of dependency of minor.

04-019 Appeal Dockets—Record of cases going to appellate courts showing style of case, date, and ruling of the court; may show court costs.

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-020 Appearance and Rule Dockets— Record of first appearance of all causes in court, showing date filed, names of attorneys, style of case, security, and action taken.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-021 Bar Dockets (aka Hearing Dockets, Trial Dockets, or Judge’s Docket Sheets)—A record prepared for the use of the judge, clerk and bar, listing all cases set for trial in court, showing date of court term, case number, names of attorneys, plaintiff, defendant, date case filed; may also show page and volume number or recordation in minute book.  This is basically a working paper, but may have record value in some counties.

As long as the information in this record series is found in other records which are retained for 10 years, these are considered working papers records and may be destroyed when no longer useful.

T.C.A. § 10-7-406(b).

04-022 Delinquent Tax Docket Book—Record of property taken over by the county, showing description of all properties sold at a tax sale, whether redeemed or not, by whom redeemed, amount of taxes, date, and decree of court relevant to property.

If the county maintains this information in this format, retain as a permanent record.

These records could have bearing on land title and therefore need to be maintained.

04-023 Execution Dockets and Indexes—A financial record of cases tried, style of case, nature of action, amount of judgment and cost, and amount and date paid.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-024 Grand Jury Dockets—Docket shows name of defendant, offense charged, and date of indictment or no true bill.

Retain 10 years, after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-025 Motion Dockets—Docket shows names of plaintiff and defendant, date motion filed, nature of motion, and remarks.

As long as information in these records is found in other records which are retained for 10 years, these are considered working papers and may be destroyed when no longer useful.

T.C.A. § 10-7-406(b).

04-026 Rule Dockets and Indexes— A record of original processes issued and filed incident to cases tried in court, showing number of case, date and hour filed, names of complainant, respondent, and solicitors; also date and nature of process, names of bondsmen, date process served, note of officer's return, and rules and orders of the court.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-027 Worker’s Compensation Dockets—Docket shows name of person applying for compensation, date of application, date and amount of judgment, and accrued costs.

 

 

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 50-6-225.

E.  Financial Records—The disposition schedule for many of the financial records of the court can be found in schedule number 15 in this manual, entitled General Accounting and Purchasing Records. The items included below are those financial items unique to the office of the court clerk.

04-028 Bills of Costs—Bills of costs submitted for payment showing names of plaintiff and defendant, date of initial action, items of cost, amount of each, date process issued, signature of official issuing warrant, date filed with court for trial, clerk's certification, date judgment paid, and number of warrant issued in payment.

If information in this record series is found elsewhere, destroy when no longer useful. If information is kept electronically, keep paper records five years.

Working paper that can be destroyed in accordance with rules of the Public Records Commission ( T.C.A. § 10-7-406(b)). Five year retention period is based on audit requirements ( T.C.A. § 10-7-404(a)).

04-029 Case Ledgers—Record of case funds received and distributed.

Retain 25 years after last entry, then destroy.

Keep for audit purposes

(T.C.A. § 10-7-404(a)).

04-030 Fee Reports—Reports of fees collected by the clerk showing date of report, date of collection, from whom received, purpose of payment, date of report, and signature of clerk.  This record is now obsolete.

Retain 10 years after clerk’s tenure is broken, then destroy.

Keep  for audit purposes 

(T.C.A. § 10-7-404(a)).

04-031 General Account Ledgers (refer to execution docket)—Ledger accounts of funds received from sales of property in settlement of estates, alimony payments, and payments of judgments and court costs; money distributed by the clerk showing style and number of case, date of collection, name of person from whom received, and amount; date of payment, name of payee, number of check issued, and amount; may show cash book and page number from which entry was posted.

Permanent record.

May have bearing on land title.

04-032 Payroll Records

See separate retention schedule in this manual for employment records.

04-033 Receipt Books, Delinquent Tax—Duplicates of receipts issued for payment of delinquent taxes, showing receipt number, date issued, name of taxpayer, amount, year of assessment, district number, number of acres of farm land, number of town lots, valuation, personal property valuation, amounts of state and county taxes, interest, penalty, and total amount of payments.

Retain 10 years after issuance of last receipt, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202.

04-034 Unclaimed Funds, Record of—Record of funds in hands of clerk unclaimed for seven years and turned over to state, showing style of case, case number, respondent, and amount.

 

 

 

 

 

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

Keep record for audit purposes and a reasonable period to allow interested parties to make inquiries.

F.  Index Books

04-035 Divorce and Adoption Cases, Index—Indexes to original divorce and adoption cases, showing names of parties, style of case, case number, and file container in which record is filed. Note: Record series may contain confidential information.

Permanent record.

Necessary for use of other permanent records.

04-036 General Index—Index to all original case papers, showing file number and names of complainant and respondent.

Permanent record.

Necessary for use of other permanent records.

04-037 Hospital Lien Index—Index for the hospital lien book, referencing patient's name and hospital or operator.

Permanent record.

Necessary for use of other permanent records.

04-038 Judgment Index Books (see Divorce and Adoption cases, Indexes)

Permanent record.

Necessary for use of other permanent records.

04-039 Minute Books and Indexes—Minutes show the course and proceedings in all cases from their origin to termination, giving name of defendant, offense charged, date of trial, verdict of jury, and sentence of the court.

Permanent record.

Necessary for use of other permanent records.

G.  Process, Court Orders, Writs, Etc.

04-040 Affidavit of Complaint—A written statement alleging that a person has committed an offense and alleging the essential facts instituting the offense charged made upon oath before a magistrate or court clerk.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-041 Attachments on Personal Property—Writs issued during court action to seize the personal property of the defendant to be held as security for the satisfaction of such judgment as the plaintiff may recover.

Retain 10 years after final settlement of case, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-042 Attachments on Real Property—Writs issued during court action to seize the real property of the defendant to be held as security for the satisfaction of such judgment as the plaintiff may recover.

Retain 10 years after final settlement of case, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-043 Capias—The general name for several types of writs which require an officer to take the body of the defendant into custody; they are writs of attachment or arrest.

Permanent record.

This record is in the nature of original process ( T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a)).

04-044 Criminal Citation—A  demand that the defendant cited appear in court at a stated time to answer to a misdemeanor charge.  The citation states the name and address of the person cited, the name of the issuing officer and the offense charged.

Retain for 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-045 Executions—Writs or  orders providing that an act or course of conduct be carried out.

Retain 10 years after issuance, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-046 Fieri Facias—Court orders to levy execution on property, sell the same, and apply the proceeds to the satisfaction of judgments in court; shows names of complainant and respondent, description of property, and amount involved; an execution.

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-047 Garnishments—Process whereby defendant's property in possession or control of another is applied to payment of defendant's debt. Shows names of court, plaintiff, and defendant, total costs, and reporting date.

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-048 Habeas Corpus, Writs of—Writs issued to change the place of trial, to move from custody of one court to another, directing that a detained person be produced, etc.

Permanent record.

This record is in the nature of original process ( T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a)).

04-049 Mittimuses—Commitments to jail, showing name of person committed, offense charged, name of prosecutor, amount of bail, date, and signature of clerk of the court.

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

 

04-050Replevin Warrants(Writs of Possession)—Writs   giving authority to recover goods or chattels claimed to be wrongfully taken or kept.

Permanent record when used as leading process (now obsolete), otherwise retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-051 Search Warrants—A written order issued in the name of the state and directed to a law enforcement officer commanding him to search a specific house, business establishment, or other premise for

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-052 Subpoenas—Copies of summonses to appear in court as witnesses in lawsuits, showing name of person summoned, day and hour to appear, in whose behalf, and signature of the clerk.

In criminal cases, retain 10 years, then destroy; in civil cases, retain three years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a)—(b).

04-053 Warrants—Writs issued in both civil and criminal cases requiring an officer of the law to arrest the person named therein and bring him before the court to answer charges of some offense which he is alleged to have committed.

Exception: Unserved Misdemeanor Warrants

Permanent record.

 

Unserved misdemeanor warrants—five years

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

 

 

T.C.A. § 40-6-206.

04-054 Writ of Possession—A writ employed to enforce a judgment to recover possession of land.

 

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

H.  Reports

04-055 Audit Reports—Audit reports show name of office, fund or account, account of all receipts and disbursements, date of audit and signature of auditor.

Preserve permanently one copy of all audits.

Record has historical significance.

04-056 Delinquent Tax Collections Reports— Copies of reports made by the clerk to the cities, county, and state of tax collections in litigation, showing docket number, case number, names of complainant and respondent, amount collected, total, and date of report.

Retain 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-057 Grand Jury Reports—Record of grand jury actions, showing name of defendant, offense charged, testimony of witnesses, whether indictment or no true bill is returned, and recommendations.

Retain 10 years and until spread in minutes, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-058 Litigation Tax Reports—A record of all state and county litigation taxes collected by the clerk showing number of cases and amount received.

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

Keep for audit purposes  (T.C.A. § 10-7-404).

04-059Revenue Dockets or Reports— Record of  reports to the county judge or county mayor of state and county revenue collected by the clerk and remitted to the trustee and state, showing date and source of collection, date reported, certification of clerk, and amounts of taxes, fees, and total.  Receipts from trustee and state for funds received may be posted in these volumes.

Retain 10 years after clerk’s tenure is broken, then destroy.

Keep  for evidence in cases of misappropriation of funds.

 

04-060 Sale Books or Reports—Record of court land sales, showing name of court, style of case, location and description of property, by what process land was sold, date of sale, name of purchaser, and tax collected.

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

04-061 Special Commissioners Reports—Reports of special commissioners appointed when property is sold by court.

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

04-062 Worker’s Compensation Payment Records

Retain 10 years after judgment in case, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

I.  Other Records

04-063 Adoption Files—Petitions to the court for the adoption of children, all intermediate proceedings, and final decree of the court, showing, in addition to the text, name and address of petitioner, date of petition, name of child, names of parents or custodian of child, age, date of birth, sex of child, statement of financial status and character of petitioner, and signatures of petitioners, affiants, and judge. Note: Record series contains confidential information.

Permanent record.

T.C.A. § 36-1-111 Has historical value and potentially significant in inheritance issues.

04-064 Bastardy Proceedings, Records of—Original papers incident to proceedings in bastardy cases including warrants, bills of cost, bonds, and court decrees showing names of plaintiff and defendant, date of trial, nature and purpose of process, and signature of issuing officer.

Permanent record.

Has historical value and potentially significant in inheritance issues.

04-065 Bastardy Cases and Changes of Names, Records of—These records may include petition from subject or subject’s parent or guardian seeking name change; also court order showing subject’s name, sex, race, date and place of birth, file date, incorrect and correct information, date and signature of judge and acknowledgment of clerk.

Permanent record.

Has historical value and potentially significant in inheritance issues.

04-066Domestic Relations Records—Records pertaining to matters such as adoptions, bastardy proceedings, child custody, and divorce.

Permanent record.

Has historical value and potentially significant in inheritance issues.

04-067 Hospital Lien—A verified statement of claim setting forth the name and address of the patient and operator of the hospital, date of admission and discharge, amount claimed to be due and names and addresses of any one believed liable for damages.

Retain for 10 years, then destroy.

Statute of Limitations, T.C.A. § 28-3-110

T.C.A. § 18-1-202.

04-068 Hospital Lien Book—Book in which the clerk enters the date and hour of filing of a hospital lien, name and address of hospital, the operator thereof, the patient, those claimed to be liable and the amount claimed.  Releases  are noted on the margin of this book.

Retain for 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

Statute of Limitations, T.C.A. § 28-3-110

T.C.A. § 18-1-202.

04-069 In Memoriam Books—Record of deaths of members of local bar.

Permanent record.

Keep  for historical value.

04-070Judgment Books—Record of judgments   rendered by the court, showing book and page numbers of rule docket in which case is recorded, number and style, names of plaintiff and defendant, judgment rendered, and amount of costs. This is an obsolete record.

Permanent record.

 

 

 

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-071 Jury Books—A record of jurors serving in cases tried before this court, showing date of court, style of case, nature of action or offense charged, and names of jurors.

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-072 Jury Commission Records—Jury commission reports from commission to court of names drawn for jury service from jury box, jury cards, etc.

Retain for 10 years, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-073 Jury List Book—A book containing a list of names of persons qualified to serve as jurors selected by the jury commissioners.

Retain for 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-074 Land Condemnation Records—Records pertaining to land condemned for road and sewer construction, commercial development, etc.

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

04-075 Land Sale Newspaper Clippings—Newspaper clippings of chancery court land sales for failure to pay delinquent taxes and for judgments settling estates for minor children, showing place of sale and description of property to be sold. Clippings are pasted in volumes.

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-076 Minute Books

See Indexes - Minute Books and Indexes.

04-077 Naturalization Records—Records of proceedings in the naturalization of aliens including certificates of arrival, declarations of intention, petitions, affidavits of witness who has known the petitioner for at least 5 years, oaths of allegiance, and orders of the court conferring rights and privileges of citizenship upon petitioner.

Permanent record.  (These records are not usually found today in Circuit Court records.)

Important for historical purposes and for establishing citizenship.

04-078 Plan and Plat Records—Drawings and blueprints of forms, subdivisions, cemeteries, city lots, and street improvements, showing name of subject, date of drawing, boundaries, scale used, location, name of engineer making survey, name of draftsman, and certificate of registration.

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

04-079 Receipts for Papers—Record of all files and papers removed from the office, showing date and by whom taken, and date returned.

Retain until all files and papers are returned, then destroy according to rules of the Public Records Commission.

Working paper (T.C.A. § 10-7-406(b)).

04-080 Sale Books— Record of court land sales, showing name of court, style of case, location and description of property, by what process land was sold, date of sale, name of purchaser, and tax collected.

Permanent record.

Could have bearing on land title.

04-081 Sheriff’s Receipt Books—Book used by execution clerks to record and control the execution and flow of fieri facias and other process to be returned by sheriff.

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

04-082 Witness Books—Record of witnesses appearing in court cases, showing date of court term, style of case, names of witnesses for complain-ant, names of witnesses for respondent, number of days attended, miles traveled, amount due, and date of payment.

 

 

 

 

Retain 10 years after last entry, then destroy.

T.C.A. § 18-1-202(a).

OBSOLETE RECORDS

04-083 Enrollment Books— Recorded copies of original process incident to civil cases, showing names of plaintiff and defendant, cause of action, dates of trial and disposal of case, nature and text of process filed, and date recorded; may include bills and petitions, answers and pleas, and depositions.  This is an obsolete record.

Permanent record. No longer generated. Keep for historical value.   

 

04-084 Retired Cases Dockets—Record of cases disposed of or retired by the court, showing case number, date retired, names of complainant, respondent, and attorneys; also date of filing, rule docket and page number of recordation, dates and text of orders of the court; and volume and page number of recordation in minute book.

Obsolete record no longer in use. Retain 10 years, after last entry, then destroy.

04-085 Subpoena and Commission Dockets—Record of subpoenas and commissions issued authorizing persons to take depositions, showing date of entry, style of case, nature of action, kind of writ, how served, and disposition of the case.

Obsolete record no longer generated. Return 10 years after last entry, then destroy.