How Judges Are Picked in Mississippi

Published on Jan 14, 2021 at 3:17 pm in Legal Information.

Table with gavel on it

Staying informed on state politics is important for residents of any state. In particular, residents should know how judges are picked so that they have a better understanding of the justice system. In general, a judge presides over trials and makes a decision on the sentencing of the party who is deemed guilty. This means that the picking of judges should be diligent because they make such serious decisions about justice and the citizens of a state.

When you’ve suffered from a personal injury and bring your case in front of a judge, you’ll want to know that the best person possible is presiding over the court. With our legal representation from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, you can feel confident in you claim and trust that we will fight to defend your rights, no matter who is the judge presiding over your case.

How Are Judges Picked?

In Mississippi, most judges are picked by popular vote. According to Ballotpedia, Mississippi was actually the first state of the union to elect judges this way. A nonpartisan election is held, and the winner accepts the next term as the judge for that court. That is for most courts, although in Municipal Court, judges are appointed.

There are some qualifications to be elected as a judge. The general qualifications to be able to run for the position of a judge in most courts in our state are:

  • Having five years of experience as an attorney
  • Being a resident of the state and that specific district for at least five years
  • Being at least 26 years old, or 30 years old for the Supreme Court

Some of the lower courts, however, have fewer qualifications. Like Justice Courts, where a potential judge must be a qualified elector, have been a resident for two years, have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a training course, and take a competency exam within six months of taking office. Municipal Court judges are only required to have a law degree.

Different Types of Judges in Mississippi

Now that you know how a judge is picked in our state, let’s take a look at the different courts that a judge rules over. According to the State of Mississippi Judiciary, judges preside over these different courtrooms across our state:

  • Supreme Court. This is the highest court in the state, and where decisions from lower courts can be appealed. There are nine Supreme Court Justices from our state, and each serves an eight-year term.
  • Court of Appeals. There are ten Court of Appeals judges who take the appeals cases that the Supreme Court assigns to them.
  • Circuit Court. The 57 Circuit Court judges hear felony criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. Usually these cases have a 12-member jury with two alternates, but sometimes only a judge will preside over the case if a jury is not needed.
  • Chancery Courts. These courts are predominantly for domestic disputes, like custody, adoptions, and divorces. There are 52 Chancery Court judges who serve four-year terms.
  • County Courts. County Courts see over eminent domain and juvenile matters, and sometimes these courts share jurisdiction over certain matters. The state’s 30 Count Court judges serve four-year terms, and the elections are non-partisan.
  • Justice Courts. These courts are for small claims cases with amounts of money valuing $3,500 or less. There are 197 Justice Court judges who serve four-year terms and have partisan elections.
  • Intervention Courts. These are special courts designed to handle cases where crimes are committed by drug or alcohol addicts, with the goal of rehabilitating the offender. Our state has 44 of these courts.
  • Municipal Courts. Municipal Courts are for misdemeanor crimes, municipal ordinances, and traffic violations. There are over 200 Municipal Court judges in Mississippi and their terms vary.
  • Youth Courts. These courts handle the abuse and neglect of juveniles. They also handle crimes committed by juveniles. In counties with County Court, those judges handle Youth Courts as well.

Pittman Roberts & Welsh Can Represent You

We understand that going to court can be intimidating. That’s why our office is here to support you through this difficult time. At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we’re here to help you feel confident in your claim and are prepared to fight for you in the courtroom if necessary. Reach out to our office so we can discuss your potential claim and how our representation would benefit you.

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