Mississippi State Court System
- Justice Courts:Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims civil cases, with an amount in controversy of $3,500 or less.
- County Court: This Court can hear some civil matters, with a jurisdictional limit of up to $200,000.
- Circuit Court: The Circuit Court hears civil lawsuits, including personal injury and tort cases.
- Court of Appeals:The Court of Appeals is the court of intermediate appellate jurisdiction. It hears and decides issues on appeal from the lower courts.
- Supreme Court of Mississippi: The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Mississippi, and hears appeals from the County, Circuit and Court of Appeals.
*Some of the courts in the Mississippi Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.
In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.
After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:
- Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:
- Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
- Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi developed an alternative dispute resolution Local Rule to implement the Alternative Dispute Resolution Plan mandated by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998. The plan is designed to provide access to effective ADR techniques and to encourage mutually satisfactory resolutions of disputes in all stages of civil litigation.
To administer the ADR plan, the chief judge of each district will designate a judicial officer, knowledgeable in ADR practices, to implement, administer, oversee, and evaluate the ADR Plan. The determination of whether a matter should be referred for ADR is addressed to the sound discretion of the judicial officer assigned to the case.
If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.
Motions and Appeals
After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the court within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment.
A judgment rendered in Mississippi is valid for 7 years.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Mississippi. Should you have a question/concern specific to Mississippi law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi.