The courts in the State of Mississippi follow three-level hierarchy. The Supreme Court of the State is at the highest level and appellate court to hear appeal from the subordinate trial courts. The jurisdiction of each court is enunciated in Title 9 of the Mississippi Code 1972 as revised and amended from time to time. However the Constitution of the State also prescribes the provision for Judiciary in Article 6. The Mississippi court system includes eight different types of courts, each with a specific role in the judicial system. The parties in the case, the issue involved, and the amount claimed help determine which court will hear a case, or have jurisdiction.
SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI
The Supreme Court is supreme judicial authority in the State. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction both in appeal and original side. The Court hears and determine all kinds of pleas, complaints, motions, causes, and controversies, civil and criminal, which pending therein, or which may be brought before it.
The Supreme Court may grant new trials and correct errors of the circuit court in granting or refusing the same.
However, the Supreme Court has such original and appellate jurisdiction in cases and proceedings for modification of any rates charged or sought to be charged to the public by any public utility.
The Supreme Court shall issue a decision in every case within its original jurisdiction, including all direct and post-conviction collateral relief appeals or applications in cases imposing the death penalty, within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court.
The Supreme Court shall issue a decision in every case received on certiorari from the Court of Appeals within one hundred eighty (180) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court
COURT OF APPEALS
The Court of Appeals has the power to determine or otherwise dispose of any appeal or other proceeding assigned to it by the Supreme Court. These rules may provide for the selective assignment of individual cases and may provide for the assignment of cases according to subject matter or other general criteria. However, the Supreme Court shall retain appeals in cases imposing the death penalty, or cases involving utility rates, annexations, bond issues, election contests, or a statute held unconstitutional by the lower court.
Decisions of the Court of Appeals are final and are not subject to review by the Supreme Court, except by writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court may grant certiorari review only by the affirmative vote of four (4) of its members. At any time before final decision by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may, by order, transfer to the Supreme Court any case pending before the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition or any other process when this may be necessary in any case assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals issues a decision in every case heard before it within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court.
The circuit court has the original jurisdiction in all actions when the principal of the amount in controversy exceeds two hundred dollars, and of all other actions and causes, matters and things arising under the constitution and laws of this state which are not exclusively cognizable in some other court, and such appellate jurisdiction as prescribed by law.
The court also have power to hear and determine all prosecutions in the name of the state for treason, felonies, crimes, and misdemeanors, except such as may be exclusively cognizable before some other court.
The circuit court shall have jurisdiction of all cases transferred to it by the chancery court or remanded to it by the Supreme Court.
If a suit is brought in the circuit court for a sum of less than the court can take cognizance of, or if a greater sum than is due shall be demanded, on purpose to confer jurisdiction, the complaint shall be involuntarily dismissed pursuant to the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure; and if the plaintiff, in any case, shall not recover more than the minimal jurisdictional amount, he shall not recover any costs of the defendant unless the judge shall be of the opinion, and so enter on the record, that the plaintiff had reasonable ground to expect to recover more than the minimal jurisdictional amount, or unless the court shall have jurisdiction of the cause, without respect to the amount in controversy.
At a special term the circuit court may impanel grand and petit juries, and shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil and criminal business, in the same manner as at a regular term.
On receiving the order for a special term, if it be held because of a failure of a regular term, the proper officers shall open the envelopes containing the names of the jurors for such regular term, if it has not been done, and the venire facias shall issue and the jurors be summoned as required by law; but if there be no such envelopes, the jurors shall be drawn as provided in case of a failure of the judge to draw them. The judge may direct whether jurors shall be summoned and how they shall be drawn.
Chancery court exclusive jurisdiction over specific cases, including divorce, annulment, alimony, child custody, child support, and paternity; wills, estates, and trusts; property matters and certain contract enforcement; and conservatorship and guardianship of minor children and persons of unsound mind. Certain cases offer the right to jury trials. Chancery court may hear county court appeals.
The jurisdiction of the county court shall be as follows:
Justice court has jurisdiction over civil cases on recovery of debts, damages, or personal property not exceeding $1,000 and misdemeanors that carry sentences of one year or less and/or a fine. The parties have the right to a jury and can appeal the case to county or circuit court. County court hears civil cases involving amounts of $50,000 or less, criminal misdemeanors, and justice and municipal court appeals.
Youth or family court hears cases involving children under the age of 18 on such issues as delinquency, need of supervision, and abuse. This court is not open to the media or public, and its records are sealed. If the case concerns a violent crime, it may be transferred to circuit court, and the defendant tried as an adult.
Municipal court oversees violations of city ordinances, traffic laws, misdemeanor charges, and sometimes preliminary hearings in felony cases. This court has no jury or recorded testimony, and fines or short imprisonment are the typical punishments. A municipal judge may also perform marriages.