By Jedidiah McKeehan

When we think about a lawsuit, we generally think about it starting on the date the lawsuit is filed with the Court. While the filing of the lawsuit is an important event, the case does not really start until the defendant is served with a copy of the lawsuit. Why is that? Because the defendant is not required to respond to the lawsuit or file anything with the Court until they are actually served with the lawsuit.

Service can happen through a number of ways, but the most common methods are by law enforcement or a private process server handing a copy of the lawsuit to the defendant. Once a defendant is served, they are required to file a written response to the lawsuit with the Court within 30 days of being served.

One quirk of being served is that serving a defendant with a copy of the lawsuit is not supposed to occur on Sundays unless it can be shown that the defendant is about to flee to avoid being served. Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-2-106 states, “…civil process shall not be executed on Sundays.”

This law has not been updated by the Tennessee legislatures since 1932, but one can only guess why this law exists. Was there some belief that Sunday was a sacred day for spiritual worship that should not be disturbed by the serving of lawsuits on defendants? That is one guess, but we may never know the answer to why this law exists.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.