Mississippi Case Law
The Mississippi state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in Mississippi is the Mississippi Supreme Court, which consists of nine judges. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the Mississippi Court of Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations, such as cases that involve issues of broad public interest or novel legal questions. Decisions by the Mississippi Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the Mississippi state court system is the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which consists of 10 judges. All cases heard by the Court of Appeals are assigned by the Supreme Court, which receives initial appeals directly. The cases reviewed by the Court of Appeals usually involve disputes over facts rather than law. Decisions by the Court of Appeals are final unless the Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The lowest level of the Mississippi state court system consists primarily of the Mississippi Circuit Courts, the Mississippi County Courts, the Mississippi Justice Courts, and the Mississippi Municipal Courts. The Circuit Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by County Courts, Justice Courts, and Municipal Courts, as well as decisions by state administrative agencies. The County Courts review certain criminal cases transferred from Circuit Courts, in addition to civil cases with no more than $200,000 at issue. They also review all cases related to juvenile matters and eminent domain. The Justice Courts generally review misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic offenses committed outside municipalities, and civil cases with no more than $3,500 at issue. The Municipal Courts review cases that involve misdemeanors, traffic offenses committed in municipalities, and violations of municipal ordinances.
Mississippi also has a separate set of trial courts called Chancery Courts. These courts typically review equitable disputes, family law matters, wills, guardianships, mental health issues, and constitutional challenges to state laws. Mississippi residents also must file land records in a Chancery Court. Appeals from Chancery Courts go directly to the Supreme Court (and then often the Court of Appeals) rather than Circuit Courts.