As attorneys, we assume that everyone understands the court system in Mississippi.  I find that most people don't really know about the various courts and what they do, and it can be confusing if you are not an attorney.  In this Blog I will take you through the various state courts, what they do and what they do not do.  (I am not including Chancery Court or Youth Court, which handle family matters, and will explore those courts in a different blog.)

      I will start at the lowest level of courts here and work up. 

First Level Courts:

     Municipal Courts-These courts handle strictly criminal cases and traffic offenses which occur within the city limits of that particular court.  These "city courts" can decide guilt or innocence on all misdemeanor cases, and serve as the "first step" for those charged with a felony within the city limits.

     Justice Courts-These courts function the same way municipal courts do, except handle criminal and traffics offenses occurring outside the city limits of the various towns. Unlike Municipal Courts, Justice Court Judges also handle civil cases such as evictions and lawsuits where damages are not over $3,500.00.

 Second Level Courts:

     County Courts:   Most of the counties in Mississippi do not have a County Court Judge.  It is an "intermediate" court for the more populated counties.  Desoto County has had a County Court Judge for a number of years.  County Court Judges handle appeals from the Municipal Courts and Justice Courts, preside over lawsuits with damages up to $200,000.00, and can handle non-capital felony cases transferred from the Circuit Court. They can conduct jury trials with six (6) person juries.

  Third Level Courts: 

     Circuit Courts:  The Circuit Court Judges in counties that do not have a County Court Judge handle the matters a County Court Judge would typically handle, such as appeals from Justice Court or Municipal Court. In addition, these judges handle the larger lawsuits with damages over $200,000.00, all felony cases and appeals from the County Court.  They conduct twelve (12) person jury trials.

   Fourth Level Courts:

      Court Of Appeals:  If you want to appeal your case, there are two Courts in Mississippi that handle appeals from Circuit Court, County Court, or Chancery Court.  The first is the Court Of Appeals.  It has three (3) judges reviewing the appeals of the parties and deciding whether the "Trial Judges" made the right decision.  They base their decision strictly on the evidence and transcript of the trial court.  They do not take testimony or handle trials.  They simply look at whatever has already been done on the trial level.

      Supreme Court:  The Mississippi Supreme Court operates the way the Court of Appeals operates, except it is the highest state authority  and the court of last resort.  It has nine (9) justices and decides which cases it will take and which will go to the Court Of Appeals.  It can decide whether or not to review a Court of Appeals decision. If it chooses not to review the case, the Court of Appeals decision stands. Some cases go directly to the Supreme Court and "bypass" the Court of Appeals, such as death penalty cases, annexation matters, etc.

     This is the Mississippi Court System, and I hope this blog is of some help in understanding why you or someone you know ends up in one court instead of another.     

     Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on the family courts-Chancery Court and Youth Court.