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Constitutionally, the sheriff of each county is responsible for carrying out the service of civil process within each county of jurisdiction. Personnel assigned as process servers execute and return to the courts the civil process which, is directed to the sheriff for service.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q. What is civil process?

A. Process has been defined as “the means of compelling a defendant in an action to appear in court, or a means whereby a court compels compliance with is demands” (Blacks Law Dictionary, 5th edition) Simply, process is an order of the court directing that an action be done.

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Q. How can I get civil process issued?

A. Civil process in Hamilton County must be issued by one of the three civil courts, the forms for the type of process requested must be completed and presented to the clerk of the court. If the court grants the request the process will be issued.

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Q. Where do I go to file a civil process?

A. There are three courts concerned with civil process in Hamilton County. Each court is described herein:

General Session Court, Civil Division - General Sessions is a small claims court with a $15,000 maximum limit. The majority of cases filed in Sessions Court are delinquent accounts, eviction process (detainer & writ of possession), recovery of personal property (contract agreements, damage or personal injury, executions by garnishment or levy, subpoenas and numerous other actions relating to small claims.

The Clerks Office is located in the Hamilton County Courts Building, First Floor, 600 Market Street, (423) 209-7630.

Circuit Court (Court of Record) - Civil actions issued from Circuit Court include Domestic Relations (divorce, restraining order, custody orders, show cause orders, body attachment, order of protection etc, lawsuits relating to personal injury, damage to real or personal property, malpractice, mental health, attachment of real or personal property, execution by garnishment or levy and all other related matters.

The Clerk’s Office is located in the Hamilton County Courthouse, Fifth Floor, 625 Georgia Avenue, (423) 209-6700.

Chancery Court (Court of Record) -The process generated from this court parallels that of Circuit Court. In addition to those listed, Chancery Court also handles all probate matters, conservator and guardianship cases plus mental health process, adoptions, and the sale of real property for back taxes.

The Clerk & Master Office is located in the Hamilton County Courthouse, Third Floor, 625 Georgia Avenue, (423) 209-6600.

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Q. How much does it cost to file a lawsuit?

A. Costs vary depending on the type of process and the number of defendants. Fees for process are paid directly to the courts.

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Q. Do I need a lawyer to file a lawsuit?

A. No, but remember that many lawsuits require legal ability that the lay person may not possess.

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Q. If I don't use an attorney how do I file process?

A. Pro Se (which means you are filing for yourself).

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Q. Can I get help in filling a lawsuit?

A. If you need assistance in filing your process, help is available in each clerk’s office, however the clerk does not give legal advice.

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Q. If I do file a lawsuit how do I get it delivered to the defendant(s) so that I may go to court?

A. When the process is filed it is sent to the Sheriff’s Civil Process Division for serving. The process is personally served to the defendant(s), the return of service completed, process returned to the issuing court. The clerk will notify you of your court date.

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Note: If you require legal assistance it is suggested that you consult with your attorney. The clerk of the court, nor the sheriff, can provide legal assistance or legal advice.

Contact Information

William Zinkeler
Civil Process Manager
6233 Dayton Blvd
Chattanooga, TN 37343
Phone: (423) 209-8970

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©2014 Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

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