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About Circuit Courts

Background of Mississippi Circuit Courts

Mississippi has 22 Circuit Court Districts with [53] judges presiding therein. Districts, created by the legislature and/or the federal courts, vary considerably as to size, population and configuration. The Circuit Court tries felony criminal cases (as well as misdemeanors on appeal) and civil actions involving issues of [$3,500] and above. Appeals from the Circuit Courts are to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Juries are widely used in the Circuit Court, with a unanimous vote of 12 required for a criminal conviction, but only 9 of 12 required for a decision in a civil proceeding. The Circuit Court with all its attendant costs is generally the most expensive court in a county, but its work is too important to be compromised or sacrificed, and its work must be supported at an efficient and operable level. While it is valuable to continually study the courts and seek improvement therein, it is noted that the alternative to no courts is not acceptable in a civilized society.

Source: James L. Roberts, Jr., The Court System, in COUNTY GOVERNMENT IN MISSISSIPPI 175, 177-78 (P. C. McLaurin, Jr., Michael T. Allen & Joseph N. Fratesi eds., 3d ed. 2004).


The Circuit Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction in Mississippi. Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction over civil lawsuits for which the matter in controversy exceeds $3,500. Circuit Courts and Justice Courts have concurrent jurisdiction over cases in which the amount in controversy is between $200 and $3,500. Furthermore, in Lee County, the Circuit Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Lee County Court over matters in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $200,000.

Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over all civil matters not within the exclusive jurisdiction of some other court (i.e., Chancery Court). In addition, Circuit Courts hear appeals from County, Justice and Municipal Courts and from administrative boards and commissions such as the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Circuit Courts also hear criminal prosecutions for treason, felonies, crimes and misdemeanors, except those cases exclusively cognizable before some other court. The Circuit Court and Justice Court have concurrent jurisdiction for all crimes for which the punishment does not exceed a fine and imprisonment in county jail (i.e., misdemeanors). In Lee County, the Circuit Court, County Court and Justice Court have concurrent jurisdiction over misdemeanors.