Hon. Lillie V. McKenzie
Justice Court Judge
Hon. Vicki B. Ramsey
Justice Court Judge
Hon. Elise Munn
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, which set up the present, more efficient system, 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. Copiah County has two Justice Court Judges, Vicki B. Ramsey and Lillie V. McKenzie.
Mona L. Carr is appointed Justice Court clerk for Copiah County. She was appointed by the board of supervisors in January, 2012. The duties of the Justice Court clerk’s office are also carried out by Deputy Clerks, Vicky Smith, and Tara Middleton.
The case load of the Justice Court is made up of criminal cases and civil cases. The criminal cases involved in the system are based on affidavits filed by private citizens, troopers of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, the deputies of the Copiah County Sheriff’s Department, officers of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, officers of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, campus police officers of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Hinds Community College, Utica campus, agents of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and Constables Ronnie Earls and Jimmy D. White. These affidavits are criminal activity as defined by Mississippi law on misdemeanors and felonies and are prosecuted for the state by Elise Munn, county prosecutor of Copiah County on misdemeanors and appeals. Misdemeanor affidavits are tried in the justice court system and felony affidavits are given an initial appearance with a bond set by the justice court judge. Only defendants that are not bonded out of jail are given a preliminary hearing on request from their attorney for probable cause to be bound over to the action of the grand jury or not bound over to the action of the grand
jury by the justice court judge.
The civil cases most used are affidavit to remove tenant, affidavit to open account, declaration, and declaration and affidavit in replevin. The jurisdiction of the justice court is limited to $3,500.
The Copiah County Justice Court holds preliminary hearings on the second Monday of each month, contested misdemeanor hearings on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, and civil hearings on the second and fourth Friday of each month.
The Justice Court is described as a grass roots court, and 75% of the citizens that go through a court system never go any farther than the justice court system. Therefore, it is the most important job of the Justice Court judges, Justice Court clerk and deputy clerks to present the court system to the public in a professional and fair manner.
PAYMENT OF TRAFFIC FINES:
Payments may be paid on traffic fines only through cash, cashiers checks or money orders. The citation holder may call to obtain their fine amount and pay with a credit card on the internet via www.copiahcountytix.com or call 1-800-701-8560.
Mona Lisa Car