Mississippi Court Records
Where to Find Mississippi Civil Court Records
In Mississippi, civil courts handle a wide range of cases involving disputes between people, institutions, or businesses. Court reporters, court clerks, or their deputies are always present to take electronic and written notes during the entire civil litigation proceedings. These records are primarily generated to provide a detailed insight into the state's civil court system. Typically, Mississippi court clerks are tasked with the additional duty of keeping, managing, and releasing civil court records according to the state's court guidelines. To find a single or aggregate civil court record, it is recommended to research and arrange specific details needed to view and obtain the records. Using the quick search tools provided by MississippiCourtRecords.us may serve as an efficient jump-off point especially when researching single or aggregate civil court records.
Are Mississippi Civil Court Records Public?
Yes, civil court records are considered public records in the State of Mississippi. Although the state Judiciary does not conform to the Mississippi Public Records Act codified under Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-1, access to its records is consistent with the mandates of the state's constitution. As such, the clerks of courts are required to provide access to public civil court records to the extent that it is reasonably feasible to do so. Even then, the public access policy is not a blanket law. Some records under the control of Mississippi courts are strictly confidential and thus, not readily, commercially, or electronically available to unauthorized parties. Generally, public court records can include rulings, orders, opinions, judgments, motions, and more. Some other information may be limited to persons with direct and tangible interests in the records including:
- The persons listed on the records
- Their designated attorneys
- Authorized government employees such as court staff, judges, and members of the law enforcement agencies
- Persons with proper court orders
Types of Cases in Mississippi Civil Courts
Generally speaking, there are three trial-level courts responsible for adjudicating civil cases in the State of Mississippi. These courts include chancery courts, circuit courts, county courts, and justice courts.
The Justice Courts have jurisdiction over Small Claims civil suits not exceeding $3,500 in worth and monetary value. Cases heard in these courts include:
- Eviction cases
- Temporary protection orders
- Debt recovery cases
The Mississippi chancery exercise original jurisdiction over specific types of cases such as:
- Equity cases
- Guardianship matters
- Wills and trust cases
- Land matters
- Probate of estate
- Mental health cases
- Contract and property disputes
Mississippi county courts handle civil suits not exceeding $200,000 in damages. The circuit courts oversee all civil matters greater than $200,000 in damages. Types of cases heard by these courts include:
- Lien and foreclosure cases
- Wrongful death cases
- Workers compensation cases
- Civil rights violations
- Breach of contract cases such as entertainment breaches
- Negligence and battery cases
- Defamation cases such as libel and slander
In addition to these, circuit courts also hear civil appeals from the county courts, justice courts, and various administrative boards and commissions such as the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and the Workers Compensation Commission. In some circumstances, these civil cases may further be appealed to higher appellate-level courts.
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases
The disparities between criminal cases and civil cases are important, especially when determining whether or not a case is criminal in nature. In Mississippi, criminal cases are proceedings initiated when a party is charged for allegedly violating a criminal statute. On the other hand, civil cases comprise all other case types that are not considered criminal under Mississippi state laws. Some distinctions between criminal cases and civil cases include:
- Initiation: A civil case begins when a party files a civil complaint seeking recovery of a money judgement against another party. Criminal cases begin when an affidavit charging a person for criminal activity is filed as defined in Mississippi state laws. Generally, in a criminal case, the trial is between the State of Mississippi and the individual charged for committing a crime. This is true even when a criminal affidavit is filed by the victim of a crime.
- Right to an attorney: Because criminal defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, the state justice system aims to safeguard their rights. As such, they are entitled to an attorney whether private or from the public defender's office. In a civil case between two or more parties, each side is required to hire an attorney or self-represent themselves. Defendants in civil cases are not entitled to public defenders.
- Burden of proof: Because the stakes are very high in criminal cases, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. The prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is indeed guilty of alleged charges. The stakes in civil cases are lighter. As such, the standard of proof is based on the preponderance of evidence. This means that provided evidence must show that there is more than a 50% chance that a plaintiff or defendant is telling the truth.
- Penalty: Judges in civil cases can only order a defendant to pay monetary compensation to the plaintiff or order the defendant to do something or desist from doing something. When a criminal defendant is found guilty by a judge or jury in Mississippi, the party may be punished by fine and/or confinement. The defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
Generally, it is wrong for a criminal process to be used to collect a civil damage or debt. Even then, Section 99-15-51 of the Mississippi Code authorizes civil court judges to dismiss minor misdemeanor cases if the injured party affirms to have received financial satisfaction. While civil and criminal cases are governed by separate laws, some cases may be filed under both criminal law and civil law. For instance, a person charged for manslaughter in a criminal court may still be liable for wrongful death under civil law.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records in Mississippi
In compliance with the Mississippi Court Records Policy, state residents are within their rights to search for, view, and copy civil court records maintained by the state courts. Typically, the guidelines for accessing these records vary from one court to another and also depends on whether a record is public or not. Generally, the clerks of court allow interested persons to make requests for records in person, by mail, or online. It is also possible to access Mississippi civil court records through dedicated third-party sites like Mississippi.CourtRecords.Org.
How Do I Find Mississippi Civil Court Records In Person?
To request a civil court record in person, start by locating the court where the specific case of interest was filed. If the court is not known, interested parties may still locate specific civil records by checking:
- The court of the county where the defendant resides, is regularly employed or runs a business. The level of court where a case is likely to be filed depends on the amount in controversy
- The county where the plaintiff lives or lived at the time of filing the case (for county and district court only)
- The county where the event that led to a lawsuit took place
- The search tools provided by independent sites such as Mississippicourtrecords.us
Upon locating the particular court where a case was filed, place a direct call to the clerk to determine request requirements and fees. Generally, requesters must provide useful information that conforms with the court's indexing system. Such information can include case number, the approximate date or year the case was filed, and the names of parties involved in the case. Make sure to provide as much request information as possible. If the record of interest is sealed or suppressed, eligible requesters will be expected to include a state-issued ID card. Applicable fees and request costs are accessed in accordance with local court guidelines.
How to Obtain Civil Court Records Via Mail?
Following the state's public record laws, the Mississippi state judiciary allows the dissemination of some civil court records via U.S. mail. Given the unique processes adopted by most courts, the requirements for accessing most records depend on the case type, the record custodian and the judicial district where the case was heard. Thus, requestors are advised to contact the record custodian for information regarding the requirements of the court prior to preparing a request. However, most mail-in requests require that the requesting party prepare a written request which should indicate the following:
- The full name and contact information of either or both parties involved in the case
- General case information including the place/date on which the case was heard
- The case file number, docket number and or appellate case number of the record (if applicable)
- The names of the attorney involved and in some cases, their state bar number
- The personal and contact information of the requesting party.
- General information regarding appellate reviews to the original verdict (if applicable)
In addition to the above, some record custodians require that requesters enclose a photocopy of their government-issued photo ID, a payment to cover search/copy fees in cheque or money order form as well as a stamped, self-addressed envelope with which to receive the requested record.
How Do I Find Mississippi Civil Court Records Online?
The state of Mississippi also provides a variety of channels with which interested members of the public can access court records online, including an electronic filing and case management system, which was designed after the Federal Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system. Known as the Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC) platform, the online court record repository is useful for filing and retrieving electronic case files, including civil court records. With the MEC, interested members of the public may access state-run databases including cases filed from those managed by local courts in various judicial districts of the state, as well as the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Courts.
Generally, users of the MEC, are required to complete the mandatory MEC registration using the signup page. This requires the $10 annual subscription fee which can be paid by card or check. Registrants are required to provide their full information or that of the user, along with their email address. Upon completing registration, each user is issued login information required to access the system. These are two primary methods used to retrieve the record of interest —by conducting a name-based search or by looking up the record by case number.
What is Included in a Mississippi Civil Court Record?
Mississippi civil court records provide official accounts of general court case information and litigation processes in civil courts. As such, court records are typically unique to the judicial district where the case was heard and the case type or claim involved. Usually, civil court records feature information regarding the parties involved as well as details of the suit. Most records include the date and place of the original complaint, the response of the defendant as well as details of the proceedings of the pre-trial hearing (except if closed/restricted by a court order). Most importantly, civil court records feature information of the court trial, including details of:
- Court actions
- Motions and motion arguments
- Filed evidence
- Witness statements
Additionally, Mississippi civil court records include information regarding the court's final verdict and consequent penalties or rights/financial settlements granted either party. This includes the amounts entitled the plaintiff in alimony/spousal support, child support or injury claim/restitution. The court may also indicate conditions of child custody, visitation or restraining order which is also featured on the record. Where either party is held in contempt and ascribed penalties details of the jail term, fines, probation sentence, or community service requirement may also be indicated. Court records also include judgment revisions made by higher courts and other details such as court opinions and decisions.
How to Access Mississippi Civil Court Records For Free
Mississippi civil court records are available for free using the online platforms, iCourt database, and public terminals located in courthouses. These records are also accessible through public libraries. However, what is available for free is basic case information. It is not the complete, comprehensive, nor certified court record. To obtain the full record, the requesting party must pay a fee to the court with jurisdiction over the records.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in Mississippi
The right of public access to Mississippi civil court records is not absolute. As such, some records may be expunged, sealed or restricted by court order or when requested by any of the subject(s) of the record. However, if the release of a record has proven relevant for legal, security or financial purposes, requestors may challenge these restrictions.
Given the confidentiality of sealed records, these are not accessible via the state's online databases but may be obtained by making in-person queries to the office of the clerk of the applicable court. To access a sealed record, the requesting party is generally required to obtain a court order from an Mississippi judge authorizing the release of the record. Requesters may also require written permission issued by either party to obtain the record. Ultimately, the availability of a court record depends on the record custodian and the case type. The following information is generally restricted and may only be released under special circumstances:
- The personal and contact information of selected persons -- including minors and juveniles
- When court-ordered, the identity of an assault or domestic violence victim may also be protected
- Identities of the juror and in some cases, witnesses/witness statements
- Records pertaining to child support and custody, paternity and adoption etc.
- Reports which are filed by expert witnesses including psychological evaluations
- Records pertaining to vulnerable adults or aged dependents.
- Financial information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers and related details.
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Mississippi
Sealed civil court records in the state are records deemed confidential by the Mississippi State laws. There are various conditions that may lead to automatic or eventual sealing of a civil court record. In many cases, parts or all of the records containing sensitive information are automatically sealed by state statutes. Additionally, persons who meet the conditions and eligibility criteria may also petition the court to have specific records sealed for a reasonable cause. While access to these records is generally restricted from the public, some persons such as parties to the case, the representative attorneys, law enforcement personnel, some court personnel, etc are furnished with the legal authority to inspect these records at will. Also, any member of the public with sufficient reason can petition the court judges for a court order or subpoena indicating the permission to have the record(s) of interest released to them. For a petition to be granted by Idaho state-licensed judges, the requester must provide sufficient reasons and evidence indicating the record's relevance in a legal matter.