The Supreme Court consists of nine Justices. The Justice with the longest continuous tenure shall be the Chief Justice and the two Justices with the next longest tenure shall be Presiding Justices. The term of office for members of the Supreme Court is eight years. They are elected by the people concurrently with the regular election for representatives in Congress.
The Mississippi Constitution provides in Article VI, Sec. 146 that "The Supreme Court shall have such jurisdiction as properly belongs to a Court of Appeals." The Mississippi Constitution provides in Article VI, Sec. 145 B that there shall be nine Supreme Court Justices.
Rule 24 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure (1995) provides that the Supreme Court sittings for the hearing of oral arguments will be held on any day when cases are set at the convenience of the Court, Sec. (A) of Rule 24 provides that ". . The Court sits in panels of three Justices. The Chief Justice shall preside over Panel A; The Senior Presiding Justice shall preside over Panel B; and the junior Presiding Justice shall preside over Panel C."
Section 11-51-1 of the Miss. Code of '72 Annotated provides: ". . . all cases, civil and criminal, at law and in chancery, shall be taken to the Supreme Court by appeal as herein provided, and shall be dealt with by said court without regard to the manner of removing the cases to such court."
Code Section 11-51-3 provides: "An appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court in the discretion of the Chancellor from any interlocutory order or decree whereby money is required to be paid, or the possession of property changed; or from a ruling on a demurrer; or to avoid a delay or expense; where the appeal is applied for within 30 days after the order or decree and costs are paid. If such appeal is disallowed by the Chancellor, it may nevertheless be allowed by a Judge of the Supreme Court.
Code Section 11-43-53 provides for an appeal to the Supreme Court in case any party is aggrieved by the judgment on the trial of a habeas corpus; or likewise the Attorney General or any District Attorney of U.S. Attorney may apply for an appeal in like manner.
Code Section 99-35-101 provides that any person convicted of an offense in Circuit Court may appeal to the Supreme Court, except where a plea of guilty is entered.
Code Section 11-51-11 provides that an appeal may be had from any order of a tribunal, other than the Supreme Court, whereby a person is to be punished for criminal contempt.
Code Section 11-51-12 provides that an appeal may be had from any order of a tribunal, other than the Supreme Court, whereby a person is to be punished for civil contempt.
Code Section 11-51-13 provides that the mode of taking an appeal shall be by petition, in writing, to the Clerk of the Court where the judgment or decree was rendered, or where the record of the judgment or decree to be appealed from may be.
Code Section 11-51-5, as amended provides that appeals to the Supreme Court shall be taken within 30 days next after the rendition of the judgment or decree complained of, and not after, saving to persons under a disability of infancy or unsoundness of mind the like period after the disability shall have been removed.
Code Section 9-3-9 provides that the Supreme Court shall have such jurisdiction as properly belongs to a Court of Appeals, and shall hear and determine all manner of pleas, plaints, motions, causes, and controversies, civil and criminal, which are now pending therein, or which may be brought before it, and which shall be cognizable in said Court; but a cause shall not be removed into said Court until after final judgment in the Court below, except in cases particularly provided for by law; and the Supreme Court may grant new trials and correct errors of the Circuit Court in granting or refusing the same. Provided however, the Supreme Court shall have such original and appellate jurisdiction as may be otherwise provided by law in cases and proceedings for modification of any rates charged or sought to be charged to the public by any public utilities (as amended by the Public Utilities Act of 1983).
COURT OF APPEALS
The Court of Appeals, created by legislation enacted in 1994, became operational in January of 1995. The court consists of ten judges, two from each congressional district. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall appoint the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for a term of four years. The Chief Judge so appointed shall be eligible for reappointment subject to the discretion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The term of office for members of the Court of Appeals is eight years. They are elected by the people concurrently with the general elections for congressional offices.
Section 9-4-3 of the Miss. Code of '72 Annotated (1994 Edition) provides that the Court of Appeals ". . . shall have the power to determine or otherwise dispose of any appeal or other proceeding assigned to it by the Supreme Court." However, the Supreme Court must " . . . 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."
The Supreme Court shall prescribe rules for assignment of cases to the Court of Appeals. Rule 16 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure provides for the assignment and transfer of cases to the Court of Appeals by the Supreme Court. In addition to those cases the Supreme Court is required to retain by statute, the Supreme Court will retain cases involving attorney discipline, judicial performance, and certified questions from a federal court. Other cases ordinarily retained by the Supreme Court include those involving a major question of first impression, fundamental and urgent issues of broad public importance requiring prompt determination, substantial constitutional questions concerning the validity of a statute, ordinance, court rule, or administrative rule or regulation, and issues where there is an inconsistency or conflict in court decisions.
The State is divided into 20 Chancery Court district, severally numbered.
Chancellors are elected by the people every four years (Code Sec. 23-5-235). The Courts sit at least twice each year at various county seats (Code Sec. 9-5-3, as amended). From and after January 1, 1986, the dates upon which such terms shall commence and the number of days for which such terms shall continue shall be set by order of the chancellor, entered annually and not later than October 1 of the year immediately preceding the calendar year for which such terms are to be come effective.
A Chancellor may in his discretion set causes for hearing, require process to be returned thereto, try causes, deliver options, and make and sign decrees therein in vacation. He may also deliver opinions and make and sign decrees in vacation in causes taken under advisement by him at term time. (Code Sec. 9-5-91, as amended).
In addition, the Chancellor shall, in vacation, and in the same manner as at a regular term, have jurisdiction to hear and determine and make and enter judgments, orders and decrees in all cases, civil and criminal which are pending in the Court and which were triable at the preceeding term. The Chancery Court has full jurisdiction in the following matters:
(a) All matters in equity;
(b) Divorce and alimony;
(c) Matters testamentary and of administration;
(d) Minor's business;
(e) Cases of idiocy, lunacy and persons of unsound mind;
The State is divided into 22 Circuit Court districts severally numbered.
The Circuit Judges are elected by the people every four years (Code Sec. 9-7-1). The Court sits at various county seats. The Circuit Judge shall, in vacation, and in the same manner as at a regular term, have jurisdiction to hear and determine and make and enter judgments, orders and decrees in all cases, civil or criminal, which are pending in the court and which were triable at the preceding term.
The Circuit Court has original jurisdiction in all civil actions when the principal of the amount in controversy exceeds $2,500.00, and of all other actions arising under the constitution and laws of this state which are not exclusively cognizable in some other court. It also has such appellate jurisdiction as prescribed by law, and also jurisdiction of all cases transferred to it by the Chancery Court or remanded to it by the Supreme Court. (Code Sections 9-7-81 and 9-7-83). Appeals are taken directly from the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court.
There shall be an inferior court to be known as the County Court in and for each of the following counties; (a) each county of the state wherein a county court is in existence on July 1, 1985, and (b) from and after January 1, 1987, each county which has a population exceeding fifty thousand (50,000) inhabitants as shown by the latest federal decennial census. The County Courts have jurisdiction concurrent with the courts of justices of the peace (infra) in all matters, civil and criminal, of which justices of the peace have jurisdiction, and have jurisdiction concurrent with the Circuit and Chancery Courts in all matters of law and equity wherein the amount of value of the thing in controversy shall not exceed, exclusive of interest and cost, the sum of $25,000.00. County Court also have jurisdiction over eminent domain, the partition of personal property, and actions of unlawful entry and detainer where the jurisdictional amount is not exceeded. (Code Sec. 9-9-1, as amended).
Each county wherein there exists a County Court has one County Judge elected by the people for a four-year term of office. (Code Sec. 9-9-5, as amended).
"Appeals from the law side of the County Court shall be made to the Circuit Court, and those from the equity side to the Chancery Court application made therefor and bond given . . ." (Code Sec. 11-51-79).
"All appeals from courts of Justices of the Peace, special and general, and from all Municipal Courts shall be to the County Court under the same rules and regulations as are provided on appeals to the Circuit Court, but appeals from orders of the board of supervisors, municipal boards, and other tribunals other than courts of Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts, shall be direct to the Circuit Court as heretofore. And from the final judgment of the County Court in a case appealed to it under this section, a further appeal may be taken to the Circuit Court on the same terms and in the same manner as other appeals from the County Court to the Circuit Court are taken . . . " (Code Sec. 11-51-81).
The Youth Court is a division of the Family Court in those counties having a Family Court; a division of the County Court in those counties without a Family Court; and a division of the Chancery Court in counties in which no Family Court or County Court is maintained. In such a county where there is no Family Court or County Court, there may be created a Youth Court division as a division of the Municipal Court, subject to certain population requirements. (Code Sec. 43-21-107, as amended).
The Youth Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning a delinquent child, a child in need of supervision, a neglected child or an abused child, except as otherwise provided by statute. (Code Sec. 43-21-151).
The Judge of the Youth Court is the Family Court Judge where such courts exist; the County Court Judge where established as part of that division; the Chancellor in other counties; or, any judge so named as provided by statute. (See Code Sec. 43-21-107).
A Family Court is created as an inferior court to the Circuit and Chancery Courts, in any class 1 county meeting certain population and property assessment requirements as provided by statute. (Code Sec. 43-23-1).
Except as otherwise provided, the Family Court shall have original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning any delinquent or neglected child in the county; such jurisdiction as is provided in the Youth Court Law; and jurisdiction may be retained until the child becomes 20 years old. (Code Sec. 43-23-5).
The Family Court Judge shall possess all the qualifications of the Chancery Court Judge as prescribed by the constitution. He shall be elected by the people every four years. He shall attend at least one annual institute for Youth Court Judges, and may attend other conventions or conferences. (Code Sec. 43-23-39).
Pursuant to the constitution, Justice Courts shall have jurisdiction of civil actions in which the principal amount in controversy is $500.00 or such higher amount as may be prescribed by law. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 9-11-9, Justice Court Judges shall have jurisdiction of all actions for the recovery of debts or damages or personal property, where the principal of the debt, the amount of the demand, or the value of the property sought to be recovered shall not exceed $2,500.00.
There shall be a competent number of Justice Court Judges in each county, not to exceed five Justice Court Judges at any one time in any one county. (Code Sec. 9-11-2).
Either party may appeal to the Circuit Court from the judgment of any Justice Court in civil cases, provided that in counties where there is a County Court, appeals shall be to the County Court. The notice of appeal and bond must be given within ten days after the rendition of the judgment. (Code Sec. 11-51-85, as amended).
An appeal taken from the Justice Court to the County Court may thereafter be appealed to the Circuit Court. (Code Sec. 11-51-81).
Municipal Courts, also known as Police Courts, are courts of limited jurisdiction established in all municipalities. Judges are appointed by the governing authorities in cities having populations of 10,000 or more and must be attorneys at law. In cities with a population of less than 10,000, the Mayor may serve as ex officio judge. The judges' terms are locally determined but are usually for four years.
The courts exercise jurisdiction over all violations of municipal ordinances and conduct hearing on violations of criminal laws within the county and on felonies with the municipality. In counties with no County or Family Courts, a Youth Court may be established as part of the Municipal Court with exclusive original jurisdiction over delinquent, neglected or battered children.