Mississippi Civil Court Records
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What are Mississippi Civil Court Records?
Mississippi civil court records are official reports detailing the litigation processes of civil courts within the jurisdiction of the state of Mississippi. These records are typically designed to provide an objective account of civil court hearings and are primarily generated and maintained by the clerk of courts of the state’s various courts. They contain all information relevant to each civil case such as details of court summons, motions and motion arguments, court actions and documents relevant to the case and any court-issued rights or financial claims granted upon concluding the case. Interested members of the public may find Mississippi civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard.
Cases Heard by Mississippi Civil Court
Unlike criminal cases, civil cases are usually filed following a breach of agreement, personal grievances, and personal injury or property damage in which one of the parties involved is liable. Mississippi civil courts are tasked with hearing all civil cases in the state’s jurisdiction, including cases involving interpersonal dispute, intra- and inter-business rift of a civil nature and related conflicts. Summarily, the cases heard by Mississippi family courts include:
- Most family-related cases (excluding cases in which a felony was committed)
- Tort, equitable claims
- Breach of contract, unlawful termination and related cases
- Consumer complaints and all other similar complaints
- Negligence of a minor or elder (often resulting in injury)
- Landlord/tenant disputes, interpersonal and workplace disputes
- Claims caused by character defamation such as slander and libel
The Mississippi Civil Court System
Civil cases in Mississippi are reserved for specific courts with jurisdiction to hear civil cases. The Mississippi judiciary operates a variety of courts with varying authorities. However, all of the state courts are answerable to the state Supreme Court. Essentially, the Mississippi court system consists of:
- Mississippi Supreme Court
- Mississippi Court of Appeals
- Mississippi Chancery Courts
- Mississippi Circuit Courts
- Mississippi County Courts
- Mississippi Justice Courts
- Mississippi Municipal Courts
- Mississippi Drug Courts
- Mississippi Youth Courts
- Mississippi County Courts
- Mississippi Court of Appeals
Pursuant to Mississippi judicial laws, the state Chancery Courts, Circuit Court, County Courts, and Justice Courts have jurisdiction to entertain civil cases depending on their severity. While Justice Courts are primarily tasked with issuing damage claims or debt recovery of amounts not exceeding $1000, the county courts hear civil cases in which the claims do not exceed $50,000. Circuit courts hear civil cases in which the plaintiff is entitled to $200 or more in claims while the Chancery courts have jurisdiction over cases pertaining to paternity, divorce, and annulment, child custody, child support, and alimony.
What is Included in a Mississippi Civil Court Record?
Civil court records are typically designed to provide an official account, detailing the general court case information pertaining to a civil suit. Most Mississippi civil court records are unique to each case and may vary depending on the record custodian or the judicial district in which the case was filed/heard.
Civil court records usually feature details of the suit and the basis for the complaint made. These records also include the full names of the parties involved along with details of the defendant’s response to the complaint (if applicable). Most court records also detail the negotiations of the pre-trial conference as well as details of the court hearing, including court motions, actions, the evidence presented by either party as well as court appearances, and other related documents or information.
Mississippi civil court records also indicate the court’s final verdict and financial settlements or court-issued rights. This may include alimony/spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support. Where either party has been held in contempt of the court during the course of the proceeding, any penalties issued to the parties are also indicated. Verdicts reviewed by appellate courts and updated judgments are also included in the civil court record (if applicable). Other related information, such as court opinions, calendars and schedules can be obtained by querying the record custodian, but are traditionally not part of the record.
Are Mississippi Civil Court Records Open to the Public?
Pursuant to Mississippi public record laws, civil court records are public information which can be made available to interested members of the public upon request. However, while the state of Mississippi supports the right to view and obtain copies of these records, the right of public access to civil court case information is not absolute. Essentially, only records regarded as ‘open’ can be made accessible to the public. Public records include general case information such as court actions, motions, orders, motion arguments, court appearances, and dispositions. Other records that are confidential or sealed by court order may only be accessed by persons who meet specific eligibility requirements. The following records are exempt from public access:
- The personal and contact information of selected persons including assault victims, juveniles, minors, and vulnerable persons
- Reports, documents presented by social service personnel and by extension, most welfare cases
- Selected information pertaining to legal actions in which public offices are involved
- In some cases, details of the amount paid in settlement
- Details of the financial status of the parties involved as well as their social security numbers, financial bank account numbers, and credit card numbers
- Records and reports pertaining to psychological evaluation and mental health assessments.
- Records pertaining to nolle-pressed charges
Following the record dissemination laws of the state, public court records are accessible via online resources provided by the state. This includes court minutes, opinions, calendars, and court schedules. However, all confidential information is usually not accessible electronically and may only be obtained following in-person requests to the record custodian.
How do I Obtain Civil Court Records In Mississippi?
The Mississippi state judiciary provides access to civil court records in compliance with the state’s public record laws. To obtain a record, requestors are required to use the available online resources or query the office of the clerk of courts in the courthouse where the case was filed or heard. Generally, record retrieval procedures differ depending on the judicial district and the record required. However, Mississippi civil court records can be accessed by using the available online resources (managed by the state or third parties), by sending written requests to the office of the clerk of courts or by making in-person requests to the office of the record custodian.
Accessing Mississippi Civil Court Records In-person
In-person record requests are especially recommended to persons seeking full court case information. Pursuant to Mississippi’s public record laws, the distribution of confidential court case information through publicly accessible online repositories is restricted. As such, civil court records that are confidential or sealed by court order can be made available to eligible persons who make in-person requests to the office of the custodian. Given the aforementioned limitations on electronic filing systems, persons interested in obtaining full civil court case information are advised to request the record in-person. Mississippi in-person record requests may proceed thus:
- Locate the Record Custodian
Mississippi civil court records are usually generated and maintained by the court clerk in which the case was heard. As such in-person court record requests require the requestor locate and confirm the judicial district in which the suit was filed and the court where the case was heard.
Civil cases in Mississippi are heard by the states circuit courts, chancery courts and Justice Courts, County Court and Circuit Courts, and given that these courts all have jurisdiction over civil cases, Civil court records are likely to be domiciled with any of the clerks of these courts depending on the case type. While cases pertaining to smaller settlements are heard by circuit and county courts, the chancery court is tasked with hearing cases with settlements over $50,000. Summarily, the location of a Mississippi civil court record may be impacted by the type of suit and the record custodian. Similarly, records of cases with appealed judgment are typically updated and maintained by the appellate court that reviewed the verdict. This is usually Mississippi’s Court of Appeals or State Supreme Court. Information regarding the state’s various courts and the contact details of their respective court clerks can be obtained using the resources available on the Mississippi Courts website.
- Collect the Required Information
Haven confirmed the location of the desired record in the judicial district where the case was heard, the requesting party may proceed to contact the record custodian i.e. the clerk of courts for information regarding the court’s record retrieval process. While the requirements for record retrieval generally varies from court to court and may depend on the case, persons seeking access to civil court records are often required to provide all the details needed to facilitate record searches. This information typically includes the full name(s) of either or both of the parties involved, the case file number of the record (if known) and the approximate date on which the case was filed/heard. In selected instances, requestors may also need to provide the name of any of the attorneys involved in the case.
- Visit the Court Record Custodian
To make in-person record requests, interested persons may visit the office of the court clerk during official working hours. Ideally, requestors must schedule each visit to the courthouse to ensure that any required resources and personnel will be available. Most requestors may self serve using the public-access computer terminals available at most courthouses. However, if the requestor requires confidential and/or certified records, the court clerk will process the search and authenticate the document. To proceed with the search, the requestor is usually required to complete an implication indicating the required information as well as the personal and contact details of the requesting party.
- Meet Identification and Fee Requirements
To obtain a record, requestors are required to confirm their eligibility by presenting a government-issued photo ID. In some cases, requestors are also charged a nominal fee to cover search/copy costs depending on the requested record. Where this is the case, the court clerk will only proceed with the search after the fee and ID requirements have been met. Additionally, records that are confidential are usually restricted to persons with specific legal authorities. As such, persons interested in obtaining confidential records must also provide a court-issued order/subpoena along with the ID and fees. Where the requestor cannot provide a photo ID, other documents may serve as alternative forms of ID—however, this is the prerogative of the record custodian.
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.
Accessing 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.
In order to Use the MEC, the requesting party must confirm the location in which the record was heard. Following Mississippi judicial laws, civil court records are managed by County Chancery Courts, Circuit Courts and the state appellate courts which have jurisdiction over civil cases. Haven confirmed the location of a record of interest, the appropriate court may then be selected from the drop-down bar of the MEC home page, after which the requesting party is redirected to the document filing system of the selected court/judicial district.
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. The 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.
- Case Number Searches
Case-number-based searches require the requesting party to provide the case number of the record in the exact format of the case file number. In addition to this, requesters may also be required to provide information regarding the approximate date the case was filed and/or heard.
- Name-Based Searches
To find a civil court record by name, requesters are required to provide the full names of either or both parties involved in the case—i.e plaintiff and/or the defendant. In addition to this, requestors may be required to also provide the date of birth of one or both parties. Where the plaintiff and/or defendant is a business or businesses, searches can be conducted by furnishing the search too with the official business name of either or both parties. If the user cannot provide some information, wild card searches can be conducted using a combination of the known information and the percentage sign (%) and/or the underscore (_).
Additionally, some, but not all of Mississippi trial courts and court clerks maintain independent websites and online repositories with which records can be retrieved. Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
- Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
How Do I Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Mississippi?
Records which have been deemed confidential or sealed by court order may be made available to eligible persons if the record is proven relevant in a legal dispute or for security and financial purposes. Interested persons may obtain sealed records by challenging the record’s confidentiality or the order to seal the record. To do so, the requesting party must petition a Mississippi-licensed judge to obtain a subpoena which will overrule the confidentiality of the record.
In some cases, the requestor may also require a written and notarized permission from the subject(s) of the record to access the record of interest. These records are generally not available using online resources but can be obtained by making in-person requests to the office of the record custodian.
Are there Public Records of Mediation Processes in Mississippi?
Pursuant to Mississippi’s court-annexed mediation rules for civil litigation the states circuit, chancery and county courts are tasked with identifying cases suits for mediation, and encouraging this option where necessary. However, while circuit, chancery and county courts may determine that a case is suited for mediation, any party may also apply to the courts to request the referral of a case to mediation.
Mediations are held between the parties involved in a civil case as well as their respective attorneys. The forum requires an impartial person which is the mediator to facilitate communication between both parties to promote a settlement or reconciliation. However, mediators may not impose their own judgment on the case. Generally, any communication pertaining to mediation is deemed confidential and is not subject to disclosure. Given that these processes are confidential, no records are made and neither the parties nor the mediator will be required to testify details of the proceeding. However, where a court determines that the proceedings including details of the communications or materials are not entitled to the protective order of the court, then this information will be subject to disclosure.