All counties in Tennessee, except those with a metropolitan form of government, must have an elected county executive who serves under that title or another appropriate name designated by private act. T.C.A. 5-6-101. The county executive serves a four year term.

The county executive is the chief executive officer of he county and has all of the powers and duties formerly exercised by the county judge except judicial powers. The county executive serves as a nonvoting, ex officio member of county legislative body, and the county executive or a representative of the county executive serves as a nonvoting member of all committees of the legislative body. T.C.A. 5-6-106. The county legislative body may elect the county executive as its chairman. However, the county executive may refuse to serve as chairman. T.C.A. 5-5-103. If the county executive is not elected chairman, then the county executive may veto legislative resolutions of the county legislative body. T.C.A. 5-6-107.

Except as otherwise provided by law, the county executive appoints members of the county boards and commissions and county department heads. Such appointees are subject to confirmation by the county legislative body. T.C.A. 5-6-106(c). It is important to recognize that most boards and department heads are provided for by general law or private act, and this residual appointive power of the county executive many not be applicable.

The county executive is authorized to employ stenographic and clerical assistants needed in the performance of his or her duties. T.C.A. 5-6-116. The county legislative body is authorized to fix the salaries of these assistants. These salaries are paid out of the county general fund. T.C.A. 5-6-118.

The references below are of acts which once applied to the office of county judge, or county executive in Roane County. They are included herein for historical purposes only. Also referenced below are acts which repeal prior law without providing new substantive provisions.


1. Acts of 1855-56, Chapter 253, page 511, established the position of County Judge in every Tennessee County who would be learned in the law and elected by popular vote for four (4) year terms. The County Judge would be sworn into office and commissioned as other Judges were. Quorum Courts were abolished, and the posts of Chairman of the County Court were abandoned, the responsibilities of both being given to the County Judge. The Judge would also be the general agent and accounting officer of the county, the duties in all three areas being enumerated by law. The County Court Clerk would continue as Clerk of the Court but would keep a docket of all the court cases as the Circuit Court Clerk must do. The County Judge could practice law in any court except the one over which he presided. This Act was repealed by the one following.

2. Acts of 1857-58, Chapter 5, page 3, repealed Acts of 1855-56, Chapter 253, above, and restored the positions of Quorum Court and County Chairman as they existed prior to the enactment of that Act.

3. Private Acts of 1905, Chapter 18, Page 49, created the office of County Judge in Roane County. This act was cited in Brooks v. Eblen, 185 Tenn. 566, 206, S.W.2d. 793.


Each county in Tennessee, except those with a metropolitan form of government, has a county legislative body, which is also formally known as the board of county commissioners, or informally known as the county commission.

The county legislative body, or board of county commissioners, is composed of not less than nine (9) nor more than twenty-five (25) members. The board reapportions the county into districts from which county commissioners are elected. These districts must be apportioned on the basis of population so that each commissioner represents substantially the same number of people. No more than three commissioners may be elected from the same district. T.C.A. 5-1-108.

The county legislative body replaced the quarterly county court as provided in the Public Acts of 1978, Chapter 934, T.C.A. 5-5-101 et seq. The county commissioners are vested with all the legislative powers and duties formerly vested in justices of the peace, but possess no judicial powers and are not charged with any judicial functions. Under T.C.A. 36-3-301, members of the county legislative bodies may solemnize marriages.

The following acts once applied to the quarterly court or the county legislative body of Roane County and are included here for historical purposes.

1. Acts of 1809, Chapter 91, Page 121, set up schedules for the opening dates of the regular terms of the Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for every county in Tennessee. The Court would meet in Roane County on the third Monday in April, July, October, and January, all process being made to conform to the new dates.

2. Acts of 1817, Chapter 132, Page 141, Section 3, fixed the times for the terms of the Roane County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions on the fourth Monday in January, April, July, and October.

3. Acts of 1821, Chapter 127, Page 126, Section 13, allowed the County Court of Roane County hereafter to sit for two weeks in every term of Court when there were five Mondays in the month in which the term of court began.

4. Acts of 1827, Chapter 34, Page 33, scheduled the opening dates of the terms of the Roane County Quarterly Court to begin on the second Monday in February, May, August, and November.

5. Acts of 1835-36, Chapter 6, Page 45, established a county court in every county of the State which would meet on the first Monday of every month and continue in session until the business of the Court was cleared. This Act prescribed certain rules of procedure and pleading for parties to observe. This Court would select a Chairman at the first term in each year to serve for one year. Some cases were to be transferred out of the County Court and into the Circuit Court. Authority was granted to the Court to summon, and use, either 25, or 37, jurors as the needs of the county might require.