Wilson v. Johnson County

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtANDERSON; REID
Citation879 S.W.2d 807
PartiesO.H. WILSON, Judge of the General Sessions Court of Johnson County, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JOHNSON COUNTY, Tennessee, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date13 June 1994

Page 807

879 S.W.2d 807
O.H. WILSON, Judge of the General Sessions Court of Johnson
County, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JOHNSON COUNTY, Tennessee, Defendant-Appellee.
Supreme Court of Tennessee,
at Knoxville.
June 13, 1994.

H.R. Fallin, Mountain City, for appellant.

William B. Hawkins, Grayson, Hawkins & Wright, Mountain City, for appellee.

William J. Harbison (Deceased), William L. Harbison, Sherrard & Roe, Nashville, for amicus curiae.

OPINION

ANDERSON, Justice.

The determinative issue in this appeal is whether the General Sessions Judge for Johnson County, Tennessee, is entitled to receive a statutory salary supplement for exercising jurisdiction over mental health commitments. The Court of Appeals decided that the Sessions Court exercised mental health jurisdiction only by reason of its juvenile court jurisdiction. Since the Sessions Judge was being paid a salary supplement for exercising juvenile court jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals reasoned that the judge was not entitled to an additional supplement. We disagree and have determined that the plain language of the statute at issue requires that the Sessions Judge receive the additional supplement for mental health commitments because the jurisdiction was obtained

Page 809

by operation of law. 1 Accordingly, the Court of Appeals' judgment is reversed.
BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, Judge O.H. Wilson, is a licensed attorney who was elected to the office of General Sessions Judge for Johnson County effective September 1, 1990. Each sessions court judge is paid a base salary according to the class of population of the County. On September 1, 1990, the salaries ranged from $70,000 for counties of the First Class having a population of more than forty-nine thousand (49,000) to $18,500 for counties of the Eighth Class having a population of less than five thousand (5,000). Johnson County is classified as a county of the Sixth class, 2 and the plaintiff's annual base salary was set at $22,000. The statute at issue provides that in counties of the Sixth Class, general sessions judges are also entitled to annual salary supplements, not to exceed $20,000, if the judge "has or by operation of law obtains" jurisdiction over other matters including juvenile, probate, domestic relations, workers' compensation, or mental health commitments. Tenn.Code Ann. § 16-15-5003(c)(1) (Supp.1993). The plaintiff exercises juvenile jurisdiction and, as a result, receives an annual supplement of $10,000. Another statute, Tenn.Code Ann. § 33-3-603(b)(3) (Supp.1993), grants concurrent jurisdiction of mental health commitments to "[j]uvenile courts in proceedings held by judges who are lawyers or by referees." By virtue of that statute and the fact that he is a licensed attorney, the plaintiff also exercises jurisdiction over mental health commitments. When he claimed entitlement to the additional $10,000 supplement for exercising that jurisdiction, the Johnson County Commission voted against funding the request, despite opinions from the Attorney General and the County Attorney for Johnson County to the contrary. The plaintiff thereafter filed this action for declaratory relief, seeking a judicial determination of his rights to the statutory supplement.

The trial court found in favor of the defendant, Johnson County, concluding that the plaintiff's jurisdiction over mental health commitments was derivative of his exercise of juvenile jurisdiction, for which he was already being compensated. On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a split 2-1 decision, affirmed the Chancellor.

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

In this appeal, the plaintiff contends he is entitled to receive the salary supplement for exercising jurisdiction over mental health commitments because he obtained that additional jurisdiction "by operation of law," pursuant to the statutes relating to juvenile and mental health commitment jurisdiction. On the other hand, Johnson County argues that the lower courts were correct in concluding that the plaintiff is not entitled to the additional supplement because his exercise of jurisdiction over mental health commitments is derivative of his exercise of juvenile jurisdiction, for which he is already receiving a salary supplement.

Our role in construing statutes is to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent without unduly restricting or expanding a statute's coverage beyond its intended scope. State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993). We must determine the legislative intent, whenever...

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119 practice notes
  • Silliman v. City of Memphis, No. W2013-02858-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • July 2, 2014
    ...Regulatory Auth., No. M2011-02116-COA-R12-CV, 2012 WL 6697288, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec.21, 2012) (quoting Wilson v. Johnson Cnty., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809-10 (Tenn. 1994)). In addition, the legislature is presumed to know both its prior enactments and the state of the law when passing new leg......
  • Bd. of Educ. of Shelby Cnty. v. Memphis City Bd. of Educ., No. 11-2101
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • August 8, 2011
    ...indicated by the language of another statute.'" Graham v. Caples, 325 S.W.3d 578, 582 (Tenn. 2010) (quoting Wilson v. Johnson Cnty., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn. 1994)). "Where a conflict is presented between two statutes, a more specific statutory provision takesPage 78precedence over a more......
  • Cohen v. Cohen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 16, 1996
    ...legislative's intent without unduly restricting or expanding a statute's coverage beyond its intended scope." Wilson v. Johnson County, 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993). If possible, we must determine the legislative intent from the plain lan......
  • In re Lawrence, Bankruptcy No. 96-11249
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • March 18, 1998
    ...statute on the same subject. Gant, 937 S.W.2d at 845; Blouvett, 904 S.W.2d at 113; Roseman, 890 S.W.2d at 29; Wilson v. Johnson Co., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); Neff v. Cherokee Ins. Co., 704 S.W.2d 1, 2 TENN.CODE ANN. §§ 26-2-1023 and 26-2-106 are statutes in pari materia relating to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
119 cases
  • Silliman v. City of Memphis, No. W2013-02858-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • July 2, 2014
    ...Regulatory Auth., No. M2011-02116-COA-R12-CV, 2012 WL 6697288, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec.21, 2012) (quoting Wilson v. Johnson Cnty., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809-10 (Tenn. 1994)). In addition, the legislature is presumed to know both its prior enactments and the state of the law when passing new leg......
  • Bd. of Educ. of Shelby Cnty. v. Memphis City Bd. of Educ., No. 11-2101
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • August 8, 2011
    ...indicated by the language of another statute.'" Graham v. Caples, 325 S.W.3d 578, 582 (Tenn. 2010) (quoting Wilson v. Johnson Cnty., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn. 1994)). "Where a conflict is presented between two statutes, a more specific statutory provision takesPage 78precedence over a more......
  • Cohen v. Cohen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 16, 1996
    ...legislative's intent without unduly restricting or expanding a statute's coverage beyond its intended scope." Wilson v. Johnson County, 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993). If possible, we must determine the legislative intent from the plain lan......
  • In re Lawrence, Bankruptcy No. 96-11249
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • March 18, 1998
    ...statute on the same subject. Gant, 937 S.W.2d at 845; Blouvett, 904 S.W.2d at 113; Roseman, 890 S.W.2d at 29; Wilson v. Johnson Co., 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); Neff v. Cherokee Ins. Co., 704 S.W.2d 1, 2 TENN.CODE ANN. §§ 26-2-1023 and 26-2-106 are statutes in pari materia relating to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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