MS Civil Practice and Procedure Abbott Fall 2016
Court Structure Context
• created by MS Const. of 1890 §171 but with 1975 Amendment:
• Must have high school diploma or G.E.D.
• Jurisdictional Amount: $3.5K or less
• Jurisdiction: small claims civil cases involving amounts of $3,500 or less, misdemeanor criminal cases and any traffic offense that occurs outside a municipality.
• May conduct bond hearings and preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases and may issue search warrants.
• Only MS judges elected in partisan races. They serve four-year terms.
• Can appeal trial de novo directly to the County Court; if no county court, then goes directly to the Circuit Court.
• Not a court of record; no court reporter.
• Jurisdiction: over misdemeanor crimes, municipal ordinances and city traffic violations. Judges may also conduct initial appearances, bond hearings, and preliminary hearings.
• Most judges appointed by governing bodies of municipalities. Terms of office vary.
Next Level: County Court
• Created by §172 of MS Const.: “create inferior courts as deemed needed.”
• Not in every county; usually there to assist Justice, Circuit, and Chancery Courts
• Share jurisdiction with Justice Courts in all civil and criminal matters of which the Justice Court has jurisdiction.
• Also, share jurisdiction with Circuit and Chancery Courts over matters of law and equity where the amount in controversy is less than $200,000.
• In all criminal matters, except capital ones, the Circuit court may transfer the case to County court.
• Also serve as Youth Court judges.
• Also have exclusive jurisdiction over all matters of eminent domain, the partition of personal property, and unlawful entry and detainer.
*Justice, Municipal, and County Courts are all courts of limited jurisdiction.*
Next Level: Chancery Courts
• Has jurisdiction over cases regarding adoption, divorce, custody of a minor, wills, trusts, guardianship, and equity. Chancery Courts also have jurisdiction over most real property matters.
• In counties that do not have a County Court, the Chancery Court has jurisdiction over juvenile matters.
• At the Chancellor’s discretion, he or she may appoint a lawyer in private practice to sit as a youth court referee.
• Have orig. jurisdiction over all civil actions where the principal amount in controversy exceeds $200, and over all matters arising under the Constitution and laws of the State of Mississippi that do not fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of another court.
• Exclusive jurisdiction over all criminal matters which do not fall within the jurisdiction of some other court.
• Exercise jurisdiction over felony matters
• Also hear appeals from Justice, Municipal, and County Courts and from administration boards and commissioners.
• Circuit Court cases are typically heard by a 12 member jury.
• Although a Circuit Court Judge may hear matters in which the dispute is a purely question of law without a jury.
The Circuit and Chancery Courts are courts of general jurisdiction.
Next Level: MS Supreme Court; Highest State Court
• Decisions of the Court of Appeals, Chancery, Circuit and County Courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court addresses appeals in both criminal and civil matters.
• The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters involving annexations, bond issues, constitutionality challenges, death penalty cases, disciplinary matters involving attorneys and judges, election contests, certified questions from federal court, utility rates, cases of first impression, and issues of broad public interest.
• IF the Court does not have exclusive jurisdiction the Court may assign the appeal to the MS Court of Appeals
MS Court of Appeals
• Hears cases assigned to it by the MS Sup. Ct.
• Court of Appeals is an error correction court.
• It hears and decides appeals on issues in which the law is already settled, but the facts are in dispute.
• It may hear both criminal and civil appeals.
• The decision of the Court of Appeals is final, but may be reviewed by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
• For a ruling to be reviewed, an attorney must file a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. If four justices decide to hear the case, the writ is granted.
• If declined, the Court of Appeals decision stands.
Jurisdiction Over the Person
In Tyee v. Dulien had a tripartite test: (1) The nonresident defendant or foreign corp. must purposefully do some act or consummate some transaction in the forum state; (2) the cause of action must arise from, or be connected with, such act or transaction; and (3) the assumption of jurisdiction by the forum state must not offered traditional notions of fear play and sub. justice…
Full Faith and Credit
Hertz Corp. v. Domergue (1974) – Defendant leased a car from Hertz in Nevada, plaintiff sued defendant to recover for damages to the car that allegedly occurred while it was leased to defendant.
Rule: U.S.S.C. decisions set outer limited of in personam jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. First, D must purposefully avail himself of the privilege of acting in the forum state or of causing important consequences in that state. Second, cause of action must arise from the consequences in the forum state of the D’s activities. Finally, the activities of the D or the consequences of those actives must have a substantial enough connection with the forum state to make the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant reasonable.
Holding: D was properly served in MS.
Galbraith v. Gulf Coast Aircraft Sales – Galbraith was trying to enforce, in MS, a default judgment from O.K. courts against Gulf Coast Aircraft Sales.
Rule: Limitation of long-arm jurisdiction over non-residents is the “minimum contacts” rule. International Shoe.
• Defendant to be subject to a judgment in personam, has to have “certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.’”
• Application: Gulf Coast was a passive buyer of insurance from G & D. That is not enough, under O.K. law, to subject a citizen of this State to in personam jurisdiction of the courts of that state.