The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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What Courts May Issue Warrants?

Reference Number: MTAS-1083
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: December 23, 2016

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The statute provides alternative sources for the issuance of an administrative inspection warrant:

(3) “Issuing officer,” means:
(A) Any official authorized by law to issue search warrants;
(B) Any court of record in the county of residence of the agency making application for an administrative inspection warrant; or
(C) Any municipal court having jurisdiction over the agency making application for an administrative inspection warrant; provided that the judge of the court is licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee. T.C.A. § 68-120-117(a)(3).

The building official may apply for an administrative inspection warrant in a state court that has jurisdiction, or in the municipal court operated by the city. The municipal court may only be used if the judge is also a licensed attorney. If a state court is used, circuit or chancery court would probably be the best option. General sessions judges have the power to issue administrative inspection warrants, but most general sessions judges are far more familiar with criminal search warrants and may be inclined to apply the stricter burden of proof required in criminal cases.

It is important to note that the building official may apply for an administrative inspection warrant without involving the city attorney. It is certainly best to consult with the city attorney to be sure the evidence is in place and is appropriately documented before making application for an inspection warrant, but legal representation is not required by the law.

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