Proposed Changes Could Impact Smyrna's Court System and End Criminal Cases

Feb 08, 2024 at 03:48 pm by WGNS News

Smyrna, Tennessee - In a move that could significantly alter the judicial landscape of Smyrna, officials are considering amendments that would end criminal proceedings for the General Sessions Court within the municipality. The measure would transfer all criminal cases to the jurisdiction of the Rutherford County Courts. The Smyrna Municipal Court, which currently holds concurrent General Sessions jurisdiction over criminal offenses within the town limits, including preliminary hearings for felony cases, may see its role redefined if the proposed changes come to fruition.


Under Article IX of the Charter, both the Town Municipal Court and Rutherford County General Sessions Court have jurisdiction over criminal offenses committed within Smyrna. However, the amendment seeks to repeal the General Sessions jurisdiction of the Town Municipal Court over criminal offenses. If approved, this would effectively relinquish the Town's responsibility for criminal court jurisdiction, with all such cases falling exclusively under the purview of the Rutherford County General Sessions Criminal Courts.

The proposed amendment, outlined in Ordinance Number 23-39, stipulates additional changes to the judicial structure within Smyrna. It mandates that the Town Court Clerk, currently in office, will serve until the August 2026 general election, after which the position will be filled by a Town employee. Similarly, the Town Judge, currently held by Judge Brittany S. Stevens, will fulfill her term until the August 2030 general election. Subsequently, the position of Town Judge will transition to an appointment made by the Town Council.

To enact these changes, the proposal must first secure majority approval from Smyrna voters in a referendum. Subsequently, it must be passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Town Council. The pivotal question poised to Smyrna voters on the ballot reads: "Shall the charter of the Town of Smyrna, Tennessee be amended in accordance with Ordinance Number 23-39, as related to Article IX: Town Court, to repeal the general sessions jurisdiction of the Town Municipal Court over criminal offenses and to authorize the appointment of the Town Judge and Town Court Clerk positions upon the completion of the current terms of office?"

The impending decision has garnered significant attention from residents, who are tasked with choosing between "Yes" or "No" options on the ballot. Early Voting is scheduled to take place from February 14, 2024, to February 26, 2024, with the official election day slated for March 5, 2024. The outcome of this referendum will shape the trajectory of Smyrna's judicial administration for years to come. • Click HERE to see the ballot. 



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