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Article VI, Mississippi Constitution

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Mississippi Constitution
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Article 6 of the Mississippi Constitution is entitled Judiciary.

Section 144

Text of Section 144:

Judicial Power of State

The judicial power of the state shall be vested in a Supreme Court and such other courts as are provided for in this constitution.

Section 145

Text of Section 145:

Composition of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall consist of three judges, any two of whom, when convened, shall form a quorum. The legislature shall divide the state into three Supreme Court districts, and there shall be elected one judge for and from each district by the qualified electors thereof at a time and in the manner provided by law; but the removal of a judge to the state capitol during his term of office shall not render him ineligible as his own successor for the districts from which he has removed. The present incumbents shall be considered as holding their terms of office from the state at large. The adoption of this amendment shall not abridge the terms of any of the present incumbents, but they shall continue to hold their respective offices until the expiration of the terms for which they were respectively appointed.

Section 145-A

Text of Section 145-A:

Addition of Judges to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall consist of six judges, that is to say, of three judges in addition to the three provided for by Section 145 of this Constitution, any four of whom when convened shall form a quorum. The additional judges herein provided for shall be selected one for and from each of the Supreme Court districts in the manner provided by Section 145 of this Constitution, or any amendments thereto. Their terms of office shall be as provided by Section 149 of this Constitution, or any amendment thereto.

Section 145-B

Text of Section 145-B:

Further Addition of Judges to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall consist of nine judges, that is to say, of three judges in addition to the six provided for by Section 145-A of this Constitution, any five of whom when convened shall constitute a quorum. The additional judges herein provided for shall be selected one for and from each of the supreme court districts in the manner provided by Section 145-A of this Constitution or any amendment thereto. Their terms of office shall be as provided by Section 149 of this Constitution or any amendment thereto.

Section 146

Text of Section 146:

Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall have such jurisdiction as properly belongs to a court of appeals and shall exercise no jurisdiction on matters other than those specifically provided by this Constitution or by general law. The Legislature may by general law provide for the Supreme Court to have original and appellate jurisdiction as to any appeal directly from an administrative agency charged by law with the responsibility for approval or disapproval of rates sought to be charged the public by any public utility. The Supreme Court shall consider cases and proceedings for modification of public utility rates in an expeditious manner regardless of their position on the court docket.

NOTE: The 1983 amendment to Section 146 was proposed by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 514, ch. 682, of the 1983 regular session of the Legislature and, upon ratification by the electorate on November 8, 1983, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on January 3, 1984.

Section 147

Text of Section 147:

Reversal of Judgment for Want of Jurisdiction; Remand

No judgment or decree in any chancery or circuit court rendered in a civil cause shall be reversed or annulled on the ground of want of jurisdiction to render said judgment or decree, from any error or mistake as to whether the cause in which it was rendered was of equity or common-law jurisdiction; but if the Supreme Court shall find error in the proceedings other than as to jurisdiction, and it shall be necessary to remand the case, the Supreme Court may remand it to that court which, in its opinion, can best determine the controversy.

Section 148

Text of Section 148:

Holding of Supreme Court at Seat of Government

The Supreme Court shall be held twice in each year at the seat of government at such time as the legislature may provide.

Section 149

Text of Section 149:

Term of Office of Supreme Court Judges

The term of office of the judges of the Supreme Court shall be eight (8) years. The legislature shall provide as near as can be conveniently done that the offices of not more than a majority of the judges of said court shall become vacant at any one time; and if necessary for the accomplishment of that purpose, it shall have power to provide that the terms of office of some of the judges first to be elected shall expire in less than eight years. The adoption of this amendment shall not abridge the terms of any of the present incumbents of the office of judge of the Supreme Court; but they shall continue to hold their respective offices until the expiration of the terms for which they were respectively appointed.

Section 149-A

Text of Section 149-A:

Divisions of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall have power, under such rules and regulations as it may adopt, to sit in two divisions of three judges each, any two of whom when convened shall form a quorum; each division shall have full power to hear and adjudge all cases that may be assigned to it by the court. In event the judges composing any division shall differ as to the judgment to be rendered in any cause, or in event any judge of either division, within a time and in a manner to be fixed by the rules to be adopted by the court, shall certify that in his opinion any decision of any division of the court is in conflict with any prior decision of the court or of any division thereof, the cause shall then be considered and adjudged by the full court or a quorum thereof.

Section 150

Text of Section 150:

Eligibility Requirements for Supreme Court Judges

No personal shall be eligible to the office of judge of the Supreme Court who shall not have attained the age of thirty years at the time of his appointment, and who shall not have been a practicing attorney and a citizen of the state for five years immediately preceding such appointment.

Section 151

Text of Section 151:

Repealed.

NOTE: This section was eliminated by an amendment adopted November 3, 1914, Laws 1916, ch 150. The number is retained to prevent a change in the numbers of the sections. The original section provided for filling vacancies on the Supreme Court under the appointive system.

Section 152

Text of Section 152:

Circuit and Chancery Court Districts

The Legislature shall divide the state into an appropriate number of circuit court districts and chancery court districts.

The Legislature shall, by statute, establish certain criteria by which the number of judges in each district shall be determined, such criteria to be based on population, the number of cases filed and other appropriate data.

Following the 1980 Federal Decennial Census and following each federal decennial census thereafter, the Legislature shall redistrict the circuit and chancery court districts. Should the Legislature fail to redistrict the circuit or chancery court districts by December 31 of the fifth year following the 1980 Federal Decennial Census or by December 31 of the fifth year following any federal decennial census thereafter, the Supreme Court shall, by order, redistrict such circuit or chancery court districts. Any order by the Supreme Court which redistricts the circuit or chancery court districts shall become effective at a date to be set therein and shall, without alteration of the composition of the districts established in such order, be enacted by the next succeeding session of the Legislature.

The circuit and chancery court districts established by the Legislature prior to the approval of this amendment shall remain in force and effect until such time as they are redistricted under the provisions of this amendment.

NOTE: The 1981 amendment to Section 152 was proposed by House Concurent Resolution No. 23, ch. 708 of the 1981 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 2, 1982, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on January 28, 1983.

The 1992 amendment of Section 152 was proposed by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 526, ch. 720, and upon ratification of the electorate on November 3, 1992, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 8, 1992.

Section 153

Text of Section 153:

Election and Terms of Circuit and Chancery Court Judges

The judges of the circuit and chancery courts shall be elected by the people in a manner and at a time to be provided by the legislature and the judges shall hold their office for a term of four years.

Section 154

Text of Section 154:

Qualifications for Circuit or Chancery Court Judges

No person shall be eligible to the office of judge of the circuit court or of the chancery court who shall not have been a practicing lawyer for five years and who shall not have attained the age of twenty-six years, and who shall not have been five years a citizen of this state.

Section 155

Text of Section 155:

Judicial Oath of Office

The judges of the several courts of this state shall, before they proceed to execute the duties of their respective offices, take the following oath or affirmation, to-wit: "I, ----, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as ---- according to the best of my ability and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Mississippi. So help me God."

Section 156

Text of Section 156:

Jurisdiction of Circuit Court

The circuit court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal in this state not vested by this Constitution in some other court, and such appellate jurisdiction as shall be prescribed by law.

Section 157

Text of Section 157:

Exclusive Jurisdiction of Chancery Court; Transfer

All causes that may be brought in the circuit court whereof the chancery court has exclusive jurisdiction shall be transferred to the chancery court.

Section 158

Text of Section 158:

Holding of Circuit Court

A circuit court shall be held in each county at least twice in each year, and the judges of said courts may interchange circuits with each other in such manner as may be provided by law.

Section 159

Text of Section 159:

Jurisdiction of Chancery Court

The chancery court shall have full jurisdiction in the following matters and cases, viz.:

(a) All matters in equity;
(b) Divorce and alimony;
(c) Matters testamentary and of administration;
(d) Minor's business;
(e) Cases of idiocy, lunacy, and persons of unsound mind;
(f) All cases of which the said court had jurisdiction under the laws in force when this Constitution is put in operation.

Section 160

Text of Section 160:

Additional Jurisdiction of Chancery Court

And in addition to the jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the chancery court in suits to try title and to cancel deeds and other clouds upon title to real estate, it shall have jurisdiction in such cases to decree possession, and to displace possession; to decree rents and compensation for improvements and taxes; and in all cases where said court heretofore exercised jurisdiction, auxiliary to courts of common law, it may exercise such jurisdiction to grant the relief sought, although the legal remedy may not have been exhausted or the legal title established by a suit at law.

Section 161

Text of Section 161:

Concurrent Jurisdiction of Chancery and Circuit Court

And the chancery court shall have jurisdiction, concurrent with the circuit court, of suits on bonds of fiduciaries and public officers for failure to account for money or property received, or wasted or lost by neglect or failure to collect, and of suits involving inquiry into matters of mutual accounts; but if the plaintiff brings his suit in the circuit court, that court may, on application of the defendant, transfer the cause to the chancery court, if it appear that the accounts to be investigated are mutual and complicated.

Section 162

Text of Section 162:

Transfer to Circuit Court

All causes that may be brought in the chancery court whereof the circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction shall be transferred to the circuit court.

Section 163

Text of Section 163:

Certification of Transferred Causes

The legislature shall provide by law for the due certification of all causes that may be transferred to or from any chancery court or circuit court, for such reformation of the pleadings therein as may be necessary, and the adjudication of the costs of such transfer.

Section 164

Text of Section 164:

Holding of Chancery Court

A chancery court shall be held in each county at least twice in each year.

Section 165

Text of Section 165:

Disqualification of Judges

No judge of any court shall preside on the trial of any cause, where the parties or either of them, shall be connected with him by affinity or consanguinity, or where he may be interested in the same, except by the consent of the judge and of the parties. Whenever any judge of the Supreme Court or the judge or chancellor of any district in this state shall, for any reason, be unable or disqualified to preside at any term of court, or in any case where the attorneys engaged therein shall not agree upon a member of the bar to preside in his place, the governor may commission another, or others, of law knowledge, to preside at such term or during such disability or disqualification in the place of the judge or judges so disqualified.

Section 166

Text of Section 166:

Compensation of Judges

The judges of the Supreme Court, of the circuit courts, and the chancellors shall receive for their services a compensation to be fixed by law, which shall not be increased or diminished during their continuance in office.

Section 167

Text of Section 167:

Civil Officers as Conservators of Peace

All civil officers shall be conservators of the peace, and shall be by law vested with ample power as such.

Section 168

Text of Section 168:

Clerks of Court

The clerk of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court in the manner and for a term as shall be provided by the Legislature, and the clerk of the circuit court and the clerk of the chancery court shall be selected in each county in the manner provided by law, and shall hold office for the term of four (4) years, and the Legislature shall provide by law what duties shall be performed during vacation by the clerks of the circuit and chancery courts, subject to the approval of the court.

NOTE: The 1976 amendment to Section 168 was proposed by Laws 1976, ch. 616, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 548, and upon ratification of the electorate on November 2, 1976, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 8, 1976.

Section 169

Text of Section 169:

Style of Process

The style of all process shall be "The State of Mississippi," and all prosecutions shall be carried on in the name and by authority of the "State of Mississippi," and all indictments shall conclude "against the peace and dignity of the state."

Section 170

Text of Section 170:

County Districts; Board of Supervisors

Each county shall be divided into five districts, a resident freeholder of each district shall be selected, in the manner prescribed by law, and the five so chosen shall constitute the board of supervisors of the county, a majority of whom may transact business. The board of supervisors shall have full jurisdiction over roads, ferries, and bridges, to be exercised in accordance with such regulations as the legislature may prescribe, and perform such other duties as may be required by law; provided, however, that the legislature may have the power to designate certain highways as "state highways," and place such highways under the control and supervision of the state highway commission, for construction and maintenance. The clerk of the chancery court shall be the clerk of the board of supervisors.

NOTE: House Concurrent Resolution No. 75, Part I, enacted as ch. 592, Laws 1990, adopted by the House of Representatives and the Senate on March 28, 1990, proposed to amend Section 170. The proposed amendment was submitted to the electorate on November 6, 1990, but was rejected.

Section 171

Text of Section 171:

Justice Court Judges; Jurisdiction

A competent number of justice court judges and constables shall be chosen in each county in the manner provided by law, but not less than two (2) such judges in any county, who shall hold their office for the term of four (4) years. Each justice court judge shall have resided two (2) years in the county next preceding his selection and shall be high school graduate or have a general equivalency diploma unless he shall have served as a justice of the peace or been elected to the office of justice of the peace prior to January 1, 1976. All persons elected to the office of justice of the peace in November, 1975, shall take office in January, 1976, as justice court judges.

The maximum civil jurisdiction of the justice court shall extend to causes in which the principal amount in controversy is Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or such higher amount as may be prescribed by law. The justice court shall have jurisdiction concurrent with the circuit court over all crimes whereof the punishment prescribed does not extend beyond a fine and imprisonment in the county jail; but the Legislature may confer on the justice court exclusive jurisdiction in such petty misdemeanors as the Legislature shall see proper.

In all causes tried in justice court, the right of appeal shall be secured under such rules and regulations as shall be prescribed by law, and no justice court judge shall preside at the trial of any cause where he may be interested, or the parties or either of them shall be connected with him by affinity or consanguinity, except by the consent of the justice court judge and of the parties.

All references in the Mississippi Code to justice of the peace shall mean justice court judge.

NOTE: The 1975 amendment to Section 171 was proposed by Laws 1975, ch. 518, House Concurrent Resolution No. 11, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 4, 1975, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 8, 1975.

Section 172

Text of Section 172:

Establishment and Abolishment of Inferior Courts

The legislature shall, from time to time, establish such other inferior courts as may be necessary, and abolish the same whenever deemed expedient.

Section 172-A

Text of Section 172-A:

Court Order for Tax Levy or Tax Increase Prohibited

Neither the Supreme Court nor any inferior court of this state shall have the power to instruct or order the state or any political subdivision thereof, or an official of the state or a political subdivision, to levy or increase taxes.

NOTE: The addition of Section 172-A was proposed by Laws 1995, ch. 635, House Concurrent Resolution No. 40, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 7, 1995, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 5, 1995.

Section 173

Text of Section 173:

Attorney-General

There shall be an attorney-general elected at the same time and in the same manner as the governor is elected, whose term of office shall be four years and whose compensation shall be fixed by law. The qualifications for the attorney-general shall be the same as herein prescribed for judges of the circuit and chancery courts.

Section 174

Text of Section 174:

District Attorneys

A district attorney for each circuit court district shall be selected in the manner provided by law, whose term of office shall be four years, whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and whose compensation shall be a fixed salary.

Section 175

Text of Section 175:

Liability and Punishment of Public Officers

All public officers, for wilful neglect of duty or misdemeanor in office, shall be liable to presentment or indictment by a grand jury; and, upon conviction, shall be removed from office, and otherwise punished as may be prescribed by law.

Section 176

Text of Section 176:

Qualifications for Member of Board of Supervisors

No person shall be a member of the board of supervisors who is not a resident freeholder in the district for which he is chosen. The value of real estate necessary to be owned to qualify persons in the several counties to be members of said board shall be fixed by law.

NOTE: House Concurrent Resolution No. 75, Part II, enacted as ch. 592, Laws 1990, adopted by the House of Representatives and the Senate on March 28, 1990, proposed to amend Section 176. The proposed amendment was submitted to the electorate on November 6, 1990, but was rejected.

Section 177

Text of Section 177:

Vacancy in Office of Judge or Chancellor

The governor shall have power to fill any vacancy which may happen during the recess of the senate in the office of judge or chancellor, by making a temporary appointment of an incumbent, which shall expire at the end of the next session of the senate, unless a successor shall be sooner appointed and confirmed by the senate. When a temporary appointment of a judge or chancellor has been made during the recess of the senate, the governor shall have no power to remove the person or appointee, nor power to withhold his name from the senate for their action.

Section 177-A

Text of Section 177-A:

Commission on Judicial Performance

There shall be a commission on judicial performance of the State of Mississippi, to be composed of seven (7) members; three (3) of whom shall be judges of courts of record in the state which are trial courts of original jurisdiction, other than justice courts; one (1) member shall be a justice court judge; two (2) lay persons who reside in the state and who have never held judicial office or been members of the bar of Mississippi; and one (1) practicing attorney who has practiced law in the state for at least ten (10) years. All judicial members are to be appointed by the judiciary of the State of Mississippi as provided by law. Restrictions on the members of the commission may be imposed by statute. Members of the commission on judicial performance not subject to impeachment shall be subject to removal from the commission by two-thirds (2/3) vote of the supreme court sitting en banc.

On recommendation of the commission on judicial performance, the supreme court may remove from office, suspend, fine or publicly censure or reprimand any justice or judge of this state for: (a) actual conviction of a felony in a court other than a court of the State of Mississippi; (b) willful misconduct in office; (c) willful and persistent failure to perform his duties; (d) habitual intemperance in the use of alcohol or other drugs; or (e) conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute; and may retire involuntarily any justice or judge for physical or mental disability seriously interfering with the performance of his duties, which disability is or is likely to become of a permanent character.

A recommendation of the commission on judicial performance for the censure, removal or retirement of a justice of the supreme court shall be determined by a tribunal of seven (7) judges selected by lot from a list consisting of all the circuit and chancery judges at a public drawing by the secretary of state. The vote of the tribunal to censure, remove or retire a justice of the supreme court shall be by secret ballot and only upon two-thirds (2/3) vote of the tribunal.

All proceedings before the commission shall be confidential, except upon unanimous vote of the commission. After a recommendation of removal or public reprimand of any justice or judge is filed with the clerk of the supreme court, the charges and recommendations of the commission shall be made public. The commission may, with two-thirds (2/3) of the members concurring, recommend to the supreme court the temporary suspension of any justice or judge against whom formal charges are pending. All proceedings before the supreme court under this section and any final decisions made by the supreme court shall be made public as in other cases at law.

NOTE: The insertion of Section 177-A was proposed by Laws 1979, ch. 520, House Concurrent Resolution No. 33, of the 1979 regular session of the Legislature, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 6, 1979, was inserted by proclamation of the Secretary of State on November 30, 1979.

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