Thursday, December 22, 2011

Judicial Review of Jackson Law Decisions

The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday issued its decision in Brundage v Cumberland County, concluding that review of a decision made pursuant to the Jackson law, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 68-211-701 to 707, may be obtained by filing either a statutory writ of certiorari or a declaratory judgment action and that the courts should liberally construe a pleading so that review may be obtained. For example, in this case, a petition for review was filed which did not meet the requirements of the statutory writ of certiorari. Rather than construing it as a declaratory judgment action, the trial court dismissed the case. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, ordering that the pleading be construed as a declaratory judgment action and that de novo review of the decision by the local legislative body be obtained thereby.

The decision of the Supreme Court in this case is consistent with its past construction of cases in which common law writs of certiorari were filed where a declaratory judgment action should have been, Fallin v. Knox Cnty. Bd. of Comm’rs, 656 S.W.2d 338, 342 (Tenn. 1983) and cases in which declaratory judgment action was filed but a common law writ of certiorari should have been, McCallen v City of Memphis, 786 S.W.2d 633, 640 (Tenn. 1990). The decision here seems to follow that flexible approach to construction of pleadings.

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