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The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and the court of last resort. They routinely handle the following types of cases: “annexations, bond issues, constitutionality challenges, death penalty cases, disciplinary matters involving attorneys and judges, election contests, certified questions from federal court, utility rates, cases of first impression and issues of broad public interest.”
There are nine Supreme Court justices, and they are elected within three judicial districts. They serve eight-year terms. They work together as a unit deciding cases.
The Supreme Court assigns cases to the Court of Appeals which absorbs the overlap from the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals was established in 1995 and uses ten judges elected across five judicial districts, and they serve eight-year terms. They hear cases all over the state. The Court of Appeals is called the “error-correcting” court.
Many Mississippi courts have their records online for public access. According to the Mississippi Public Records Act, “Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-1,” they allow access to most court information. Any records if made available would impede justice are not open to the public. Additionally, MS has rules about other records which cannot be shared with the public, such as sealed, expunged and other court-ordered private records. Also, records containing security information, locations of offices, home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and family member’s names will be redacted before the files are made public. United States federal laws also prohibit certain things from being included in public files.
The State of Mississippi Judiciary website (ms.gov)has an extensive area with forms for all types of courts and purposes. These forms are useful for people who are self-representing themselves in a trial court. The state also has a section on its website called MEC, which stands for Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC) system. They began the initiative in 2005 to move all case management over to digital files and open up the filing service online to attorneys and the general public. Additionally, people can use the system to find cases, pay fines and tickets. They have explicit instructions on how to use the system and how to create PDF files for uploading as well as court decisions, filing fees, and court rules. Patrons can also ask the court clerk's office for help.
Curious about state courts? Did you know that using Infotracer you can access thousands of court cases from all over MS including Hinds County, Harrison County, Mississippi County, and DeSoto County? According to the Freedom of Information Act, and Mississippi’s Public Records Act Miss. Code Ann. 25-61-1 et seq., private citizens are granted the right to review most all criminal records, family court issues, civil cases, dockets, divorces, case files, felony cases, marriage licenses, access to criminal cases, bankruptcies, and more!
Someone can conduct their own public records search privately without the need for any official reason or special permission. Most records will be available except those that are private such as juvenile records.
Get instant free access to state public records from all types of courts in the state. Using a quick name search, you can look up court cases from MS chancery court, circuit courts, county courts, drug court, justice courts, municipal courts, property records, some vital records, and youth court.
Circuit Courts are one of the two general jurisdiction courts for the state. These courts handle felonies and civil matters. Additionally, they also handle appeals from the County Courts, Justice Courts and Municipal Courts as well as “from administrative boards and commissions such as the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.” MS has 22 Circuit districts with 57 judges presiding. Each district has one to four Circuit judges. These judges are elected in a non-partisan election, and they serve four-year terms. These courts are trial courts using a 12-member jury with a couple of alternate jurors. In some cases, a judge will decide the verdict instead of a jury.
Chancery Courts are the other general jurisdiction courts for the state, and they handle matters of equity, domestic relations including adoptions, child custody, divorces, guardianships, wills, and mental health cases. They also handle real property cases and challenges to the constitutionality of state laws. In MS counties that do not have a County Court. These courts also handle juvenile matters including juvenile delinquency, child abuse, and neglect. These courts rarely use a jury and instead are overseen by a chancellor. State law does allow litigants to request a jury trial in these courts. MS is split into 20 districts and has 52 judges presiding over these courts.
County Courts are limited jurisdiction courts with exclusive jurisdiction over eminent domain cases, juvenile issues and other types of legal matters. Some of these courts are split into Youth Courts where a County judge presides and handles all juvenile matters. These courts share jurisdiction with both Chancery and Circuit Courts for some civil proceedings. They can handle civil claims up to $200,000 then the higher courts take over. They can also resolve non-capital felony offenses, issue search warrants, set bond and hold preliminary hearings. The state has 22 of these courts with 30 judges presiding. Each judge is elected and serves a four-year term.
Justice Courts are another limited jurisdiction court with domain over small claims civil matters of $3,500 or less, misdemeanor crimes and traffic violations that take place outside a municipality. These courts can also conduct bond hearings, hold preliminary felony hearings and issue search warrants. The state has 82 Justice Courts throughout and 197 judges who oversee them. Justice Court judges are elected in partisan elections, and they serve four-year terms. Drug Courts are an off-shoot of Justice Court and handle special cases that relate to drug and alcohol addiction. Drug Court aims to assist with rehabilitation and treatment rather than just punishment.
Municipal Courts in the state are the final type of limited jurisdiction court for the state, and they handle misdemeanors, local ordinance violations, and traffic offenses. These courts hold a lot of initial hearings where defendants are charged and advised of their rights. Municipal Courts also hold bond hearings and preliminary felony hearings. Another off-shoot of Municipal Courts are Youth Courts which focus solely on juvenile issues. MS has 237 Municipal Courts. Most municipalities have at least one or more. Municipal Court judges are appointed by the town government, and each serve a different term of office.