The Shelby County Environmental Court hears various cases related to the quality of life in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. These cases arise from the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances, the Shelby County Code of Ordinances, and the Tennessee Statute.
Cases brought under City of Memphis Ordinance:
Housing Code Violations are brought by Housing Code Enforcement and address residential properties that do not meet the minimum standards set for the health and safety of both residents and neighbors. Such properties may be in a state of disrepair or accumulate trash and debris, among other potential violations. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 5708
Fire Code Violations are brought by the Memphis Fire Department and address hazards and structures in danger of collapse or otherwise present fire hazards.
Animal Code Violations are brought by Memphis Animal Services and involve violations related to licensing and vaccinations of animals, cruelty to animals, dangerous dog declarations, and animals running at large. See Memphis Animal Ordinance
Littering/Illegal Dumping Violations are brought by Environmental Officers pursuant to Code § 16-492
Memphis Police Department and Citizen-Initiated Violations Littering are brought by police officers and citizens under Memphis Ordinance Code § 16-492, which permits the police and/or citizens willing to appear as witnesses to cite persons to court for littering, nuisances, or urban blight.
Cases brought under Shelby County Ordinance:
Construction and Zoning Code Violations are brought by Memphis and Shelby County Code Enforcement. Businesses operating without a proper license and inspection certificates, illegal sign violations (including advertising and political signs), defective and/or unpermitted additions to houses or businesses, and activities prohibited in certain zones, such as auto repair in a residential zone are examples of violations brought by the Division of Planning and Development Construction Enforcement. See Memphis and Shelby County Unified Development Code
Health Code Violations are brought by the Health Department and involve problems related to rat and mosquito harborage (including old tires and accumulated junk), tuberculosis and other infectious disease control, sewage outcroppings, defective plumbing, and violations related to improper food preparation. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 16.
County Traffic Violations are brought by Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Any traffic citation issued by a deputy sheriff is sent to the Environmental Court. See Shelby County Ordinance Code § 20.
Sheriff’s Office and Citizen-Initiated Violations Littering are brought under Shelby County Ordinance Code § 28-82, which permits deputy sheriffs and/or citizens willing to appear as witnesses to cite persons to court for littering, nuisances, or urban blight.
Cases brought under Tennessee Statute:
Nuisances under TCA § 29-3-101 are civil actions brought by the District Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Office. These cases involve businesses, residences, and apartment complexes where sufficient illegal activity is occurring for the Court to declare them a public nuisance. Upon doing so, the property may be shut down until such time as the owner can assure that the illegal activity will cease.
Neighborhood Preservation Actions under TCA §13-6-101 are civil actions whereby an interested party may sue the owner of a vacant property that is in such a state that it is a blighting influence on neighboring properties. These actions may be for damages in the amount the neighboring property’s value is diminished by the blighted property or for an order to have the property brought into compliance with the standards set by the Memphis Code. If the property owner cannot or will not bring the property up to the standard, the Court may appoint a receiver to bring the property into compliance.
Offense of Littering is a criminal violation under TCA § 13-14-501, and the Shelby County Environmental Court has exclusive jurisdiction over these cases in Shelby County.
Wildlife Code Violations are Tennessee Criminal Violations brought by officers of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These cases include hunting, boating, and fishing violations. See TCA § 70.
State Traffic Violations under state law are brought to Division 14 by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. These citations are written by state troopers and are criminal misdemeanors.