What Court Will Hear My Case?
Court systems vary from state to state. This is one of the reasons lawyers must have separate licenses to practice in their particular states. Also, subject matter of a particular case determines which court system will determine the outcome. The following is an outline of Mississippi court systems and the types of cases that each court hears.
Municipal/City Court: Every city has a city court. Its jurisdiction extends to matters occurring within the city limits. Clinton is super lucky to have a great courtroom and full time staff. Some cities do not. I have been to city courts held in old, dilapidated buildings on fold out tables and chairs.
Municipal courts hear misdemeanor crimes and traffic matters. If a felony is committed within city limits, city court handles the initial hearings and bond settings. It also has some limited jurisdiction with domestic restraining orders.
Justice Court: Justice court handles the same type matters as are heard in municipal court. Cases end up in justice court if the matter occurred within the county. The sheriff’s department enforces the law in the county and has concurrent jurisdiction with the city where it is located. Interestingly, Mississippi Justice Court judges are not required to have a law degree.
County Court: Most counties have County Courts. These courts handle preliminary matters in felony, criminal cases and jury trials for civil matters less than $200,000. Jury trials in county court only use six jurors.
Chancery Court: The Chancery Court hears matters relating to land and family. Land disputes, eminent domain cases, divorce, child custody, and probated estates are examples of cases it hears. Almost all of the cases heard are decided by the Judge/Chancellor only. The only cases where there could be a jury in Chancery Court are contested Wills.
Workers’ Compensation Commission: The Workers’ Compensation System is a completely separate court system that handles only workers’ comp cases. Appealed cases are sent to the Circuit Court.
Circuit Court: Circuit Courts are the true “trial” courts in our state. Circuit Courts handle felony criminal matters and civil cases over $200,000. Jury trials here utilize twelve jurors.
Appellate Courts: In Mississippi, we have two appellate level courts. The Court of Appeals and the Mississippi Supreme Court. Cases appealed from circuit courts, chancery courts, and the Workers’ Compensation Commission come here for review if one of the parties appeals.
I hope you are all still doing well and staying safe. Hopefully we will be easing back to normal in a week or so. As always, feel free to contact me if you need anything. Now is a great time to get your Estate in order!
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill