Justice Court Judge
2000 – Present
2000 – Present
Justice Court Clerk
Appointed November 1994
1992 – Present
2000 – Present
The Justice Court system in Mississippi is derived from the Medieval England Justice of the Peace system. Early Americans brought this system of dispensing justice from England to the colonies in which they settled. Although the Mississippi Justice Court system has undergone major changes over the years, this basic principal of a local court with someone from the community serving as the judge in small claim matters has remained.
Early justices of the peace in Mississippi were compensated on a fee basis, had no training requirements, no formal place to hold court, and not much guidance in how to perform the duties of operating a court. Then in 1981, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case Brown vs. Vance severely criticized the Justice Court system that violated a defendant’s due process right to have a trial before an impartial tribunal.
The Mississippi Legislature, in response to the above mentioned case, established the Office of Justice Court clerk in order to provide for a new system whereby the monetary responsibilities of Justice Court would be handled by a non-judicial employee. The county board of supervisors of each county appointed one person to serve as clerk of the Justice Court system of the county, and the Justice Court judge was placed on a salary founded on the population of the county. The legislature established the position of the Justice Court clerk; provided for mandatory training for the Justice Court judges and clerks through the Mississippi Judicial College of the University of Mississippi, and amended laws for conducting the business of Justice Court. These laws have been in effect since January 1, 1984.
Section 9-11-2 of the Mississippi Code establishes the number of judges to be elected for each county. Simpson County has two Justice Court Judges.
The duties of the Justice Court Clerk’s office are also carried out by deputy clerks.
The duties of the clerk and deputy clerks are: to file and record actions and pleadings, to accept payments for fines, to acknowledge affidavits, to issue warrants in criminal cases upon direction by a justice court judge, to certify and issue copies of records, and to issue all process necessary for the operation of the court.
The case load of Justice Court is made up of criminal/misdemeanor cases, traffic tickets and civil cases. Criminal cases are based on affidavits filed by private citizens and all law enforcement officers. Law Enforcement includes: Sheriff’s Office, MS Highway Patrol, MS Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries, MS Dept. of Transportation, agents of the MS Bureau of Narcotics and Constables. All misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases are prosecuted and tried at Justice Court. The County Prosecuting Attorney appointed by the Board of Supervisors is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanor cases. Misdemeanor and traffic cases are heard the 1st and 2nd Tuesdays and Thursdays of the month.
Civil cases are filed by people seeking money judgements in cases in the amount of not more than $3,500. Civil cases include but are not limited to removal of tenants, open accounts, and replevins. Civil cases are heard the 3rd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.
The Justice Court is described as grass roots court, and 75% of the citizens that go through a court system never go any further than the Justice Court system. Therefore, it is the most important job of the Justice Court Judges and Clerk and Deputy Clerks to present the court system to the public in a professional and fair manner.
Defendants may contact the court at 601-847-5848 10 days before the court date to find out the fine amount or set a trial date. Fines are payable by bringing in cash or mailing cashier’s checks or money orders (no personal checks). Fines may also be paid by calling 1-800-701-8560 or at www.simpsoncotix.com. Our mailing address is 1498 Simpson Hwy 149, Mendenhall, MS 39114.