Mississippi Court Records
Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records
Are Mississippi Court Records Public?
Although the Mississippi Public Records Act (MPRA) enacted in 1983 grants members of the public access to public records, some judicial records are explicitly exempted by the statutes. However, as an independent, separate, and equal arm of the government, the Mississippi Judiciary actively practices an open court system in line with the Mississippi Constitution. In its Statement of Policy Regarding Openness and Availability of Public Records, the Mississippi Judiciary grants members of the public access to records in its custody, including court records. Records that may not be available for public inspection include those sealed by court orders, documents filed under seal, and those exempted by the statutes.
Some of the records exempted from public inspection by the MPRA include information technology records such as source code, IT infrastructure details, security plans, and authentication credentials. Others are the personal information of law enforcement agents, judicial officers, and their spouses.
The clerks of the court, who are court record custodians, may deny some record requests if the requests might interrupt the operations of the court or a judicial agency. They may also deny applications if the records being sought are exempted by the statutes or capable of exposing the security architecture and locations of judicial offices.
How Do I Find Court Records in Mississippi?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Mississippi is to identify the court that tried the cases and submit a request to the clerk of such court. It is easy to identify the court that tried a case if the offense committed is known. The courts in Mississippi and the types of cases they hear are:
- Intervention Courts: Intervention Courts are courts created for specific purposes. A common example is the Mississippi Drug Court that sits on drug abuse cases, among other non-violent and juvenile offenses. To find records from the Intervention Court, requestors may submit requests at the Drug Courts.
- Municipal Courts: Municipal Courts are primarily in the cities. Cases tried at Municipal Courts include city traffic violations, misdemeanor offenses, and ordinances. Interested persons may submit requests at the Municipal Courthouse in cities.
- Justice Courts: Justice Courts in Mississippi have jurisdiction over small claims cases of $3,500 and less. Preliminary hearings for felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic offenses that occur outside a municipality are also tried at Justice Courts. Interested individuals can visit any of the 82 Justice Courts in Mississippi to request court records.
- Youth Courts: Youth Courts have jurisdiction over abuse and neglect cases involving minors. Civil and criminal offenses committed by persons below 18 years are also brought before the Youth Courts. Juvenile records are exempted from public disclosure, and their requests are usually denied.
- County Courts: County Courts were set up in counties with a high population to assist the Justice, Chancery, and Circuit Courts. County Courts are present in about 22 Mississippi counties, and they try criminal cases transferred by the Circuit Court. The court also hears cases involving the recovery of properties with values less than $200,000. Requestors can visit County Courts locations and apply for court records.
- Chancery Courts: Chancery Courts try cases involving divorce, wills, adoption, and custody of minors. In counties with no County Courts, Chancery Courts preside over disputes involving juveniles. The clerks of the Chancery Courts keep the court’s records, and interested persons may contact them for their records of interest.
- Circuit Courts: The Mississippi Circuit Courts have a wide jurisdiction over civil matters, where the value of the dispute is over $200,000. The Circuit Court also has jurisdiction over criminal matters and hears appeals from cases decided by the lower courts. Requestors can inspect and copy court records from the office of clerks of the Circuit Courts.
- Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals in Mississippi handles cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court. It also hears civil and criminal appeals on proceedings in which the law has been decided, but the facts of the case are in dispute.
- Supreme Court: The Mississippi Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. It reviews the decisions of the Court of Appeals and some rulings made by the lower trial courts.
The Clerk of the Appellate Courts is the custodian of records of cases decided at the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Written requests for court records may be sent to:
First floor, Carroll Gartin Justice Building
450 High Street
P.O. Box 249
Jackson, MS 39201
The inspection and copying of court records are not free. The Mississippi statutes allow each public body to charge a fee commensurate with the minimum labor cost of finding and duplicating the public records. As such, the clerk of the Appellate Courts has fixed charges for inspecting and duplicating copies as follows:
- Regular copying: $0.50 per page
- Copying from bound volumes of records: $2 per page
- Copy of mandate: $10
Both the Mississippi Annotated Codes and the Mississippi Courts Public Records Policy are reticent on the issue of waivers. Hence, custodians are not mandated constitutionally to issue fee waivers for public record requests.
Limited space in the Clerk of the Appellate Court’s office necessitated the transfer of some very old court records to the Mississippi Department of Archive and History (MDAH). Interested persons can apply for court records that are no longer available at the clerk’s office at the MDAH.
State Law Library in Mississippi
The Mississippi State Law Library, a department of the Supreme Court, also has records of decisions from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in its custody. The library charges patrons 15¢ per page to make photocopies, while library staff pays 30¢ per page. Requests may be submitted to the State Library at:
2nd floor, Gartin Justice Building
450 High Street
Jackson, MS 39201
Intending requestors may call (601) 359-3672 for inquiries.
Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration
Records in the custody of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) include financial and administrative records of the courts. Requestors of such court documents can file their requests in writing and submit at:
501 North West Street
Jackson, MS 39201
The requests do not need to be delivered in person. They may be forwarded by mail or submitted via email. It can also be transmitted via facsimile to (601) 359-3402. The fees charged for copying and inspecting records from the DFA varies depending on the size of the documents. A standard 8½ x 11 inches size costs $0.25 for black and white copies, while the same size costs $0.50 for colored prints. Other sizes attract extra costs.
Mississippi court clerks usually respond to court records requests within 14 days after the receipt of the request. Requestors whose applications are denied must be notified while also stating the reasons for such rejection. However, such denials can be appealed for a review by the Supreme Court Administrator. The notice of appeals must be filed within 14 days after the notice of rejection of the records and submitted at:
Supreme Court Administrator
P. O. Box 117
Jackson, MS 39205-0117
Remote Requests in Mississippi
Mississippi court records are available online, and members of the public can access them remotely. The Mississippi Electronic Court (MEC) has the court records of most Mississippi courts online. MEC was chosen as the case management system because it is already in use in over 200 federal districts and bankruptcy courts. Most judges are familiar with it, and this makes transitioning to the online database seamless. Interested persons can query the MEC for Mississippi court records. The Mississippi State Law Library also has some court records like law reviews and journals available online.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:
- The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
- The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.
How Do Mississippi Courts Work?
The Mississippi court system consists of eight levels of courts, with the Appellate Courts at the top of the hierarchy.
The least among Mississippi courts is the Intervention Court. Intervention Courts are not traditional courts. They are primarily set to up curb specific excesses among the residents of the state. Drug Courts are examples of Intervention Courts and are created for the rehabilitation of juveniles and non-violent drug addicts. The structure and scope of the Intervention Courts differ from county to county.
The Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over traffic offenses, municipal ordinances, and misdemeanors in their domain. There are currently about 237 Municipal Courts in Mississippi and are presided over by one judge each, although there are also some with more than one judge.
The Justice Courts in Mississippi preside over small claims cases whose contested values are not more than $3,500. Misdemeanors and preliminary hearings of felonies are also brought before the Justice Courts. At present, the 82 Justice Courts in Mississippi are presided over by 197 judges.
The Youth Courts preside over disputes involving minors. Abuse or neglect of a minor and offenses committed by persons below the age of 18 are tried in the Youth Courts. In the 22 Mississippi counties where there are County Courts, their judges preside over the Youth Courts. For counties without County Courts, the Chancery Court judges hear matters involving minors or appoint lawyers to act in their stead.
County Courts are not present in every Mississippi County. There are only about 22 of them. The County Courts hear disputes involving damages to personal properties, unlawful entry, and civil matters where the disputed amount does not exceed $200,000. Circuit Courts may also transfer criminal cases to County Courts, except those where capital punishment is being sought. About 29 judges who serve a four-year tenure preside over the County Courts.
Chancery Courts, on their part, have jurisdiction over disputes involving divorce, adoption, will, and adoption of minors. The Chancery Courts have jurisdiction over issues involving juveniles in counties where there are no County Courts. Mississippi is divided into 20 Chancery Court Districts with between one to four judges presiding over each court.
Circuit Courts in Mississippi have jurisdiction over civil cases where the disputed amount exceeds $200,000. Felonies and other criminal matters are also brought before the Mississippi Circuit Courts, alongside a 12-man jury. There are 51 judges distributed across the 22 Circuit Court Districts in Mississippi. These judges serve for four years and are selected by non-partisan elections.
The appellate courts review decisions from the lower courts. The lower appellate court is the Court of Appeals. This court hears cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court, which is the highest appellate court. It also contests the decisions of the lower courts where the facts of cases are established. The Court of Appeals began hearing cases in 1995 when the Mississippi Legislature created it to relieve the burden of the Supreme Court. The Mississippi Court of Appeals has 10 judges, including the Chief Judge who is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. These judges are elected through a staggered non-partisan election to serve for eight years.
The Mississippi Supreme Court, the court with the highest jurisdiction in the state, sits atop the Mississippi court system. The court reviews decisions made by the lower trial courts and those of the Court of Appeals, when necessary. Some appeals go directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeals. Appeals on cases involving the death penalty, state laws validity challenge, and discipline of judges and attorneys are heard by the Supreme Court. Nine judges, representing each of the state’s three districts, preside over cases at the Supreme Court for eight years. The most senior of the elected judges automatically become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
What Are Civil Court and Small Claims in Mississippi?
Small claims and civil suits are non-criminal disputes involving payment for damages as punishment. In Mississippi, small claims are disputes with values not exceeding $3,500. These cases are brought before the Justice Court. Since the amounts claimed at these courts are small, hiring lawyers might be too expensive. Disputes involving landlord and tenant evictions, debts, injuries arising from minor accidents, and other petty cases can be filed at Mississippi Small Claims Courts.
Civil suits are also non-criminal disputes where the party offended seeks compensation for damages. Cases involving contract disputes, recovery of debts or properties, damages to properties can be tried as civil suits. The value of the disputed figure determines the court that will hear a civil case. Amounts exceeding $200,000 are brought before the Circuit Courts, while those below $200,000 are tried at the County Courts. Plaintiffs must file their cases at the court in the district or county where the offense was committed or where the defendant resides.
What Are Appeals and Court Limits in Mississippi?
An appeal is an application to a higher court to review the decisions made by a lower court. To appeal civil cases, a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days after the judgment has been given. After the notice has been filed, parties to the case will present their case to the court by filing briefs. The appellant files their briefing case, while the appellee files a responsive briefing. Rebuttal briefs from the appellant are sometimes received before the court makes its decision. Appealing criminal convictions follow the same process. Notice of appeals must be submitted within a 30-day time frame after the judgment at a lower court. It usually takes about 270 days for the completion of an appeal process. Some cases can be appealed directly to the Mississippi Supreme Court. These include cases where capital punishment has been ordered and disputes involving constitutional matters. The Supreme Court reserves the right to deny appeals on decisions made by the Court of Appeals. Filing appeals at the appellate courts are expensive. The clerk of the appellate courts fixes varying charges for appealing different cases.
What Are Mississippi Judgment Records?
Mississippi judgment records describe a court's decision on the facts of a criminal or civil case filed in its jurisdiction. Judgments are declarations of an individual's legal rights or orders compelling a party to fulfill certain obligations or bear the penalties for a crime. This declaration or order becomes binding when the court clerk enters a physical judgment record in the court docket. This record is available for public perusal per the Mississippi Public Records Act. Thus, any resident of Mississippi, and even out-of-state residents, can obtain the judgment record provided the individual can identify the case and pay the associated costs.
To obtain Mississippi judgment records, visit the clerk's office where the court issued the judgment. Generally, this court is located in the county where the defendant lives or where the crime happened. Pay a visit to the courthouse during regular business hours and submit a request at the clerk's office. The court staff will require details to search and retrieve the case record, such as the case number and litigants' names. The judgment year and judge's name may also expedite the search.
Upon getting the record sought, the court staff shall make regular copies of the judgment record unless the requester specifically requested a certified copy. A typical judgment record contains the litigants' names, a description of the case background, and the issued judgment.
What are Mississippi bankruptcy records?
Mississippi bankruptcy records provide financial information about a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy. Creditors are discouraged from demanding repayments when a person declares bankruptcy. Debtors most commonly petition for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to have a repayment plan to settle their debts while keeping their assets, whereas Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the asset to be liquidated to pay off the creditors. There are times when Chapter 13 is preferable to Chapter 7. Chapter 13 allows debtors to mortgage their assets under Mississippi bankruptcy exemptions.
Bankruptcy records and related recordings such as Mississippi liens, contracts, judgments, and writs can be accessed by interested and eligible persons upon request. However, requestors will be required to provide information to process their request and cover the cost of research, copying, and notarization if required.
How Do I Find My Case Number In Mississippi?
Case numbers, a set of unique numbers assigned to each case for identification, can be found if other information that can help court clerks locate a court record is available. Details such as names of parties involved, the court that tried the case, and the judgment that was given can facilitate a court record search. Application for court records held by the appellate courts can be submitted to the clerk’s office at:
First floor, Carroll Gartin Justice Building
450 High Street
Jackson, MS 39201
If the information provided by the requestor does not adequately describe the record of interest, finding the case number will be challenging, and such requests may be denied. Alternatively, inquirers can query the MEC remotely using other information to find a court case number.
Can You Look Up Court Cases In Mississippi?
The MEC case management system currently in use by Mississippi courts allows attorneys and members of the public to look up court cases from courts already on the platform. Users pay an annual fee of $10 to have access to this system, while $0.20 is charged per page for inspecting files depending on the number of pages searched.
Does Mississippi Hold Remote Trials?
The need to reduce personal contact at the courtrooms and prevent the spread of COVID-19 led to the approval of video conferencing for certain aspects of court proceedings. An order of the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended in-court proceedings and introduced technology for judicial practices. Electronic filing of cases was approved, as well as the use of video conferencing to obtain arrest and search warrants. It was also approved for felony plea hearings as the court continues to adapt to the current situation.
What is The Mississippi Supreme Court?
The Mississippi Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. It was established by the 1832 Constitution that created the High Court of Errors and Appeals. In 1869, an amendment to the Constitution renamed it the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The court has the final decision on all cases, and its judgment can only be appealed at the United States Supreme Court. Appeals of decisions where capital punishment was ordered by a lower court are brought directly to the Supreme Court. Also, disputes involving the interpretation of the constitution and disciplinary actions against judges or attorneys are appealed at the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reviews the decisions made by the Court of Appeals where necessary. The Mississippi Supreme Court has nine justices who serve for eight years and are elected in staggered non-partisan elections to avoid multiple vacancies. The longest-serving justice in the court is appointed as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Mississippi Municipal Courts?
The Municipal Courts in Mississippi have limited jurisdictions in the cities they are present. They have jurisdiction over disputes involving traffic violations and misdemeanors. They may also conduct preliminary hearings of felony cases before they are transferred to the grand jury. There are currently about 237 Municipal Courts in Mississippi.
Mississippi Justice Courts?
The Mississippi Justice Courts try small claims disputes with values not exceeding $3,500. Justice Courts may also issue search warrants and conduct preliminary hearings for felonies. In Mississippi, 197 judges preside over cases brought to the 82 Justice Courts. These judges are elected in partisan elections and serve for four years each.
Mississippi Youth Courts?
Disputes involving minors are heard in Youth Courts in Mississippi. Neglect and abuse of minors or offenses committed by children are some of the cases this court tries. Counties with County Courts have their judges presiding over Youth Courts, while counties without County Courts are assigned judges from the Chancery Court. The Chancery Court Judges may also appoint lawyers to act in their stead.
Mississippi County Courts?
The County Courts in Mississippi share jurisdiction with Justice Courts and are not present in all the counties in the state. County Courts also assist the Chancery and Circuit Courts with an expeditious dispensation of justice. They hear civil cases with values not exceeding $200,000. Circuit Courts may also transfer criminal cases that do not involve the death penalty to County Courts. There are currently 22 County Courts in Mississippi with about 32 judges who serve a 4-year term.
Mississippi Chancery Courts?
The Mississippi Chancery Courts sit over cases involving the adoption of minors, wills, and divorces. In counties without County Courts, Chancery Courts sit over minor-related disputes. Mississippi has 20 Chancery Court Districts. The population in a district determines the number of Chancellors assigned to that district. About 48 Chancellors, serving four-year terms each, preside over Mississippi Chancery Courts.
Mississippi Circuit Courts?
The Circuit Courts in Mississippi have jurisdiction over civil suits with a value of over $200,000 and all criminal cases, including felonies. Mississippi has into 22 Circuit Court Districts, and about 51 judges preside over cases brought before the Circuit Courts. These judges are elected every four years in a nonpartisan election.
Mississippi Court of Appeals?
The Mississippi Court of Appeals is an appellate court established in 1995. It was created by the State Legislature to ease the burden of the Mississippi Supreme Court. It reviews decisions from the lower courts. The Court of Appeals has ten judges elected from five different districts. The Supreme Court appoints a Chief Judge from these ten judges.
Mississippi Intervention Courts?
The Mississippi Intervention Courts are uncommon courts set up by the state to tackle certain excesses. The Drug Courts in Mississippi are examples of Intervention Courts. These courts were established to find ways of reforming juveniles and non-violent adult drug abusers. People with previous criminal convictions and those with pending charges are not accepted into the rehabilitation programs of the Drug Courts. These programs run between 12 to 36 months. Presently, there are about 44 Drug Intervention Courts in Mississippi.