Cases that may be heard in Justice Court include:
- Civil actions under $2,500
- Felony preliminaries
- Marriage ceremonies
- Highway patrol citations
- Fish and Wildlife citations
- Appeals from Justice (and Municipal) Court
Lowndes County has three justice court judges. They are elected to a four year term from their respective districts. Chris Hemphill was elected from district one, Ron Cooke from district two and Peggy Phillips from district three. A Justice Court Judge has jurisdiction over all civil actions for the recovery of debts or damages for personal property where the principle debt, amount of demand, or the value of the property to be recovered in court does not exceed $2,500.00. Justice court judges have jurisdiction over criminal violations in the county in the same manner as the circuit court. However, criminal proceedings only occur in the justice court where the punishment does not extend beyond a fine and imprisonment in the county jail. No justice court judge may preside over a trial in any situation where there is personal interest.
The number of justice court judges for each county is determined by population within the county. Counties with a population of less than 35,000 there shall be two justice court judges. Counties that have a population between 35,000 and 70,000 shall have three justice court judges. Counties that have a population between 70,000 and 150,000 shall have four justice court judges. Counties with a population exceeding 150,000 shall have 5 justice court judges. The board of supervisors is required to create single member election districts in the county for the election of each justice court judge.
Justice court judges are required to hold regular terms of court at times subject to their discretion. Judges are required to hold at least one session of court per month, but not more than two, at a reasonable time in a courtroom established by the board of supervisors.
The board of supervisors shall appoint a clerk of the justice court system as well as deputy justice court clerks. The justice court clerks and deputy justice court clerks are empowered to file and record actions and pleadings, issue warrants, and acknowledge affidavits for the justice court. They also have the authority to collect filing fees and fines on behalf of the justice court.
Every justice court judge is required to take the oath of office prescribed by Article 6, Section 155 of the Mississippi Constitution. The justice court judge is also required to post a bond in the same manner as other county officers. Justice court judges are also required to give bond payable in a penalty equal to $10,000.
If the justice court judge resigns from office or the term of office expires he is required to deliver within ten days of vacating the office, the case record with all papers and books of statutes relating to the office of justice court judge, to the clerk of the justice court.
Clerk of Justice Court
309 South MLK Jr. Drive
Columbus, MS 39701