The vast majority of all process service conducted in Rhea County is accomplished through the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. The three general categories covered through process service are listed below with a brief description about each process. Although the vast majority of the papers served in Rhea County are served by Rhea County Sheriff’s Department officers, all papers are generated in the court system through judges, clerks or attorney’s. Individuals in private practice occasionally conduct process Service. The Rhea County Sheriff’s Department is not affiliated with any private process servers, nor does it hire them to represent it. Three full-time officers with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department are assigned to the civil process division. Patrol Officers are also tasked with helping to serve process including warrants.
Subpoenas are generated by each court system on a case-by-case basis. When a civil suit, criminal case or public hearing is necessary, all essential parties who may potentially be called on to serve on a jury, serve as a witness on the case or have the responsibility of prosecuting the case will receive a written notice from the court. This notice is a subpoena, and in Rhea County, the vast majority of subpoenas are served by the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. Most, but not all subpoenas should have a court date and time the respective person is notified that they are expected to appear before the court. In some civil cases, the subpoena will simply state that the individual is to serve a response on the plaintiff’s attorney. In those cases, the person served or their attorney will be expected to provide a response to the requesting party’s questions/accusations regarding the civil case. One type of subpoena that is most commonly misunderstood is the jury summons. Although many people believe they are to respond to a jury summons by contacting the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department, they should contact the court clerk at 775-7818 if there are issues with serving on a jury.
Warrants are generated by the criminal court of Rhea County Tennessee and must accompany all arrests made in Rhea County. The Rhea County Criminal Court issues warrants based on testimony by law enforcement officers as well as citizens of Rhea County when sufficient evidence is presented to the court that a crime has taken place. Officers who arrest individuals during the course of their routine duty of patrolling or responding to calls must swear to a warrant with the Rhea County Criminal Court. Individuals may also swear to a warrant if they have been a victim of a crime and present sufficient evidence to the court to merit issuance of a warrant.
When a warrant is issued by any jurisdiction in the United States, the warrant is entered in the National Crime Information Center database and is commonly referred to as N.C.I.C. Misdemeanor warrants carry the stipulation that they are arrest only within the state that issued them. Felony warrants for major crimes are issued and can be for arrest regionally, nationwide and in some cases internationally. The District Attorney General for the local jurisdiction determines what level of extradition the warrant merits.
If a warrant is issued by another state, a Fugitive From Justice warrant is issued to local authorities allowing the local law enforcement officers to arrest the individual only if the crime is an extraditable offense in the issuing state.
The Rhea County Sheriff’s Department serves approximately 7000 civil process and subpoenas each year. A civil process paper is issued to an individual who has non-criminal litigation before the civil court of either Rhea County, another Tennessee County and also other states. When the officer serves the civil paper on an individual, information including any set court date, purpose of the case and necessary documents required of the individual to bring to court will be included on the paper.
Subpoenas are served on individuals who are either witnesses or defendants on civil as well as criminal cases. Any subpoena served by an officer will give important information on date of appearance in court and any necessary documents or information that should be brought to court if those documents are subpoenaed as well.
Jury Subpoenas are issued by the Circuit Court of Rhea County Tennessee as well as other jurisdictions and require the individual to report to the court making himself or herself available as a potential juror. If an individual receives a jury subpoena and he or she believes they have a potential conflict or disability that would preclude their serving, including non- residence in the issuing county, that person must contact the respective court for further instructions on a potential dismissal from duty. Although the jury Subpoena is mailed from the court with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department name on the envelope, the Sheriff does not issue the subpoenas and is not authorized to remove anyone from serving on a jury. Only the issuing court can excuse a person from serving on a jury.