County Legal System

Cindy AustinCHANCERY CLERK
(Elected at large for a four-year term)
CONTACT:
Cindy Austin
Smith Co Chancery Clerk
P O Box 39
Raleigh, MS 39153
Phone: 601-782-9811
Fax: 601 782-4690

 

 

 

 

(The Chancery Clerk Records and Chancery Court Sessions are now in the new Chancery Building across from the Smith County Courthouse.)

The title “Chancery Clerk” can’t begin to describe the various duties and responsibilities attendant to the office. The chancery clerk assists not only the functions of the chancellor and the court, but assists the board of supervisors and plays a vital role in many county affairs, as well. The duties of the chancery clerk include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: Clerk of the Court, Custodian of Public Land Records, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, County Auditor, County Treasurer.

CLERK OF THE CHANCERY COURT:

• Attending and maintaining the minutes of the chancery court
• Creating and maintaining files for each chancery court suit
• Issuing process for service upon defendants
• Recording the court’s activities in various dockets and minute books
• Scheduling courtroom time (where counties share a common courtroom between chancery and circuit, or other, courts)
• Maintaining dockets (in those districts without a court administrator who performs this duty)
• Processing all phases of civil commitments
• Summoning jurors (in those chancery court matters in which a jury trial has been granted)
• Receiving and accounting for various filing fees required to accompany pleadings and appeals
• Attending each session of the chancery court
• Transmitting statistical data to the Mississippi Supreme Court, AOC
• Processing the court’s record(s) for appellate review

CUSTODIAN OF PUBLIC LAND RECORDS:
• Creating and maintaining various indexes for documents filed in the public land records (i.e., sectional index, direct/reverse index, etc.)
• Creating and maintaining volumes which contain copies of all documents filed and indexed in the public land records (i.e., deed books, deed of trust books, or some combination thereof, etc.)
• Receiving and accounting for various filing fees required to accompany documents left for recording
• Maintaining all records of property sold for taxes by the county tax collector each year and accepting and processing payment in redemption of those taxes

COUNTY AUDITOR
• Keeping accounts with each county office
•Keeping ledger accounts of all receipts and disbursements of county funds keeping financial records for all county officers responsible for receiving or collecting money for the county, including a detailed account for debits and credits against the tax collector
• Issuing receipt warrants and properly documenting funds paid to the county
• Collecting privilege taxes and issuing privilege licenses on an annual basis

COUNTY TREASURER
• Receiving and disbursing money on behalf of the county
• Reconciling statements from the county depository

CHANCERY COURT

Chancery-court-bldg

 

CONTACT:
Honorable David Shoemake
Chancery Judge Post 1
P.O. Box 1678
Collins, MS 39428
601-765-8284 office
601-765-8282 fax

Honorable Gerald Martin
Chancery Judge Post 2
P.O. Box 325
Raleigh, MS 39153
601-587-2997 office
601-587-2999 fax

Chancery Court Cases Include:
• Domestic and family matters: divorce, child custody, property division, adoptions, alimony
• Estates of descendants
• Land issues (titles, contracts)
• Commitments of mentally disabled
• Equity appeals from County Court

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHANCERY COURT
The Chancery Court has always been the separate court of equity (as distinguished from the law court circuit) in Mississippi, and the Chancellor generally hears cases without a jury. Juries are permitted only in paternity cases and will contests.  An advisory jury is permitted in any case, but as the jury’s decision is advisory only and not binding on the Chancellor, this use of a jury seems of little or no use.  Advisory juries are rarely utilized but all litigants have the right to request the same.

The Chancery Court handles equity cases involving domestic and family matters such as divorce, child custody and support, property division, adoptions, and all related issues. Additionally, the Chancery Court handles and processes the estates of decedents (with or without a Last Will and Testament) and all issues involving minors. This court handles a wide variety of other matters, including issues concerning title to land, contracts, injunctive matters, and commitments of persons impaired through mental disability and/or chemical-substance-alcohol abuse.

In the 63 counties having no Family or County Court, the Chancery Court either hears all youth court proceedings or appoints a youth Court Referee (Judge) to do so. The Chancery Court is a court of record and its appeals are to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

CIRCUIT CLERK

Anthony GraysonCONTACT:

Anthony Grayson
Smith Co Circuit Clerk
P O Box 517
Raleigh, MS 39153
Phone: 601 782-4751
Fax: 601 782-4007

 

 

The Smith County Circuit Clerk is elected at large for a 4 year term.
The Clerk provides a variety of services to the Circuit and County Courts as well as to the public
CIRCUIT AND COUNTY COURTS
• Keep a general court docket in which all names and parties in each case, plea, indictment, records
from inferior courts on appeal, and other papers are entered.
• Keep orders of the court which are referenced in the minute book.
• Keep the execution docket
• Enter a full and complete record of the proceedings of the suit

ELECTION PROCESS/ VOTER REGISTRATION – ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES
• Serve as a registrar for voters in the county
• Collect a filing fee from candidates pursuing a county office or legislative seat within the county Election Information (Results, candidates, etc.)

JURY DUTY
• Notify citizens who have been selected to serve on jury duty
• Prepare a jury list for the attorneys
• Familiarize jurors with the courthouse
• Receive and file all documents during trials
• Issue subpoenas
• Jury instructions given by the judge
• Receive verdicts of jurors and read them in open court
• Issue jurors a county warrant (check) and certificate of service (if needed)

MARRIAGE LICENSES
• File a Statistical Record of Marriage with the office of vital records with the state board of health
• Issue the marriage license
• Collect, from applicant, a filing fee of $21 per marriage record prepared

CIRCUIT COURT
District Attorney BowenCONTACT:
Eddie H. Bowen
13th Circuit Court District Judge
PO Box 545
Raleigh, MS 39153
(601)782-4413

 

 

 

Circuit Court Cases Include:
• Civil actions over $75,000
• Misdemeanors
• Bastardy, felonies
• Civil action and criminal appeals from County Court

Mississippi has 22 Circuit Court Districts with 49 judges presiding therein. Districts, created by the legislature and/or the federal courts, vary considerably as to size, population and configuration. The Circuit Court tries felony criminal cases (as well as misdemeanors on appeal) and civil actions involving issues of $2,500 and above. Appeals from the Circuit Courts are to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Juries are widely used in the Circuit Court, with a unanimous vote of 12 required for a criminal conviction, but only 9 of 12 required for a decision in a civil proceeding. The Circuit Court with all its attendant costs is generally the most expensive court in a county, but its work is too important to be compromised or sacrificed, and its work must be supported at an efficient and operable level. While it is valuable to continually study the courts and seek improvement therein, it is noted that the alternative to no courts is not acceptable in a civilized society.

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

CONTACT:
Stan SoreyStanley Sorey
Board Attorney
Phone: 601 782-4000
Fax: 601 782-9999

 

 

 

The Prosecuting Attorney is responsible for prosecuting cases that occur within
the county but outside any incorporated areas.

Represents the State in the Justice and County Courts involving the following types of cases:
• Felony investigations and preliminary hearings
• County court criminal cases and those appealed to the circuit court
• Misdemeanors

IN COOPERATION/ASSISTANCE WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY:
• Criminal and civil cases in which the state, county or any municipality within the county has interest
• Misdemeanors, youth court proceedings and other cases not specifically granted to DA
• Appear on behalf of the DA if designated to do so

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Daniel JonesCONTACT:
Daniel Jones
13th Circuit Court District Attorney
100 Court Ave Ste 4
Mendenhall, MS 39114
Phone: (601)847-1342
Fax: (601)847-3428

 

 

 

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR
• The prosecution of all felonies committed within Smith County . Felonies are
crimes punishable by imprisonment for a period of more than one (1) year.
• He is the foremost representative of the executive branch of government in the enforcement of the criminal law in his district.
Cases on the trial docket can range from shoplifting to capital murder.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
(1) It shall be the duty of the district attorney to represent the state in all matters coming before the grand juries of the counties within his district and to appear in the circuit courts and prosecute for the state in his district all criminal prosecutions and all civil cases in which the state or any county within his district may be interested; but if two (2) or more counties are adversely interested, the district attorney shall not represent either. Any district attorney may also institute and prosecute to final judgment or decree any case in the name of the state against any person or corporation for any violation of the constitution or the laws of this state, in order to enforce any penalties, fines or forfeitures
imposed by law in any court of his district having jurisdiction, with like effect as if the suit was instituted by the attorney general.

(2) The district attorney may transfer any case handled by him to a county prosecuting attorney when charges in such case no longer constitute a felony.

(3) The validity of any judgment or sentence shall not be affected by the division of jurisdiction under this section, and no judgment or sentence may be reversed or modified upon the basis that the case was not processed according to this section.

(4) A county prosecuting attorney or municipal prosecuting attorney may be designated by the district attorney to appear on behalf of the district attorney pursuant to an agreement relating to appearances in certain courts or proceedings in the county of the county prosecuting attorney or in the municipality of the municipal prosecuting attorney. Such agreement shall be filed with the circuit court clerk of any county where such agreement shall be operative. Such agreement shall be binding upon the district attorney and county prosecuting attorney or municipal prosecuting attorney until dissolved by either of them in writing upon five (5) days’ notice.

(5) Where any statute of this state confers a jurisdiction, responsibility, duty, privilege or power upon a county attorney or county prosecuting attorney, either solely, jointly or alternatively with a district attorney, such county prosecuting attorney shall be responsible for the prosecution, handling, appearance, disposition or other duty conferred by such statute. Any such provision shall not be construed to bestow such responsibility, jurisdiction or power upon the district attorney where there is no elected county prosecuting attorney, and any such matter shall be handled pursuant to Section 19-3-49, Mississippi Code of 1972.

(6) The district attorney or his designated assistant, or the county prosecuting attorney or his designated assistant, shall assist the attorney general in appeals from his district to the Mississippi Supreme Court and in other post judgment proceedings, and shall appear for oral argument before the supreme court when directed by the supreme court.

(7) The several district attorneys shall submit reports of revenues and expenditures and shall submit budget requests as required for state general fund agencies. For purposes of budget control, the several offices of district attorney shall be considered general fund agencies and the budget and accounts of the several offices, including salaries, travel expenses, office expenses and any other expenditures or revenues, shall be consolidated for all districts as far as such consolidation is practical. All revenue or funds allocated or expended by a district attorney, whether such funds are appropriated from state funds, or whether such funds are received from county funds, grants or otherwise, shall be reported to the legislative budget office.

JUSTICE COURT

Jerry and Hulon

Jerry BaldwinJudge Jerry Baldwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hulon WestJudge Hulon West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice Court Staff

Justice Court Staff:
Melissa Walker, Justice Court Clerk; Theresa Stewart

Justice Court Judges are elected officials serving 4 year terms. To qualify to serve as a Justice Judge the candidate must meet the following requirements:

• High school diploma is mandated
• Justice Court Training Course provided by the Mississippi Judicial College of the university of Mississippi

Law Center
• Annual continuing education requirements prescribed by the Judicial College
• Resident of County at least 2 years prior to serving it
• Hold at least one session of court per month, but not more than two.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE JUSTICE COURT
Smith County Justice Court has jurisdiction over all actions for the recovery of debts or damages as well as personal property, up to $2,500. Clients file affidavits in Justice Court to recover property to settle debts, or to seek relief from disputes over family matters or issues involving neighbors and others.

Additionally, Justice Court handles fines resulting from citations by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Fish and Wildlife Department officers. It holds court for citizens who protest such citations. It also holds court to settle criminal violations occurring outside the municipalities but within the county and performs marriage ceremonies. It issues process papers, subpoenas and warrants requiring an appearance in court on a specified date.

Justice Court works cooperatively with the Public Service Commissioner and received monies resulting from periodic vehicle inspection roadblocks.

The officers of the court consist of Justice Court Clerk, or Court Administrator, 12 deputy clerks, a bailiff and four judges. Process papers, subpoenas, and warrants are served by Constables who are elected officials.

A 1984 statute by the Mississippi Legislature requiring a competent number of justice court judges in each county eliminated the Justice of the Peace System and established the present Justice Court System.

SHERIFF

Charlie CrumptonCONTACT:
Charlie Crumpton
Smith County Sheriff
P O Box 307
Raleigh, MS 39153
Phone: 601 782-4531
Fax: 601 782-4003

 

 

 

 

 

sherrif-staff

Sheriff’s Office Staff:
L to R: Marty Patterson, Undersheriff; Marsha Ivey; Charlie Crumpton, Sheriff

The Smith County Sheriff is elected at large for a 4 year term.

QUALIFICATIONS OF SHERIFF

The Sheriff is elected at-large and serves a four-year term or until his successor shall be qualified. A sheriff is eligible to immediately succeed himself in office.

Before taking office the Sheriff must meet one of the following qualifications:
• Previously served as sheriff.
• Had at least five years experience as a full-time enforcement officer.
• Previously completed an applicable training course at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Academy or the Jackson Police Academy within the previous five years
• Attend and complete an appropriate curriculum at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Academy

SHERIFF’S DUTIES:
1) Law Enforcement Duties
These duties are to keep the peace within the county, by causing all offenders in his view to enter into bonds, with sureties, for keeping the peace and for appearing at the next circuit court, and by committing such offenders in case of refusal. The sheriff is also charged with the duty to quell riots, routs, affrays and unlawful assemblages, and to prevent lynchings and mob violence.

2) Administrative Duties
Serve as the county’s jailor — The sheriff is required to keep separate rooms for the sexes, not permitting communication between male and female prisoners, unless they are married; provide fire and lights when necessary and proper; sufficient and clean bedding; and daily wholesome and adequate food and drink.

Have charge of the courthouse and jail of his county, of the premises belonging thereto, and of the prisoners in said jail. This includes the protection of the court and prisoners from mob violence, injuries or attacks  by mobs, and from trespasses and intruders.

Submit a budget of his office’s estimated expenses for the next fiscal year including payment of premiums on the bonds and insurance necessary to protect the interest of the county. (i.e. bonds for liability insurance, insurance against false arrest charges, insurance against false imprisonment charges, theft, fire, and other hazards insurance, and hospitalization insurance).

Keep books of every kind, maps, charts, and other things that may be donated to the county.

Keep the Mississippi Department Reports, census reports, statutes of the state, the Mississippi Reports, digests, and legislative journals assigned to his county in the courtroom of the courthouse.

Keep a jail docket noting the details of each warrant or mittimus of any person placed in the county jail.

CONSTABLE

Constable EasterlingCONTACT:
David Easterling- Constable Post 1
P O Box 171
Raleigh, MS 39153
Phone: 601 782-4334
Fax: 601 782-4005

 

 

 

Constable Dennis JonesDennis Jones – Constable Post 2
P O Box 171
Raleigh, MS 39153
Phone: 601 782-4334
Fax: 601 782-4005

 

 

 

CONSTABLES’ RESPONSIBILITIES:

The office of constable is filled through election by district for a four (4) year term. These districts are “single member election districts” by the board of supervisors. Each district has the same boundaries as the districts established for justice court judges.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES
• Attend and participate in a two (2) week training session addressing the nature and scope of responsibilities, including firearm use and safety training
• “To keep and preserve the peace with his county, by faithfully aiding and assisting in executing the criminal laws of the state.”
• Attend the justice court of his district
• Execute all judgments in any criminal case before the court
• Take the oath of office prescribed by the Mississippi Constitution.
• Post bond payable in an amount equal to $25,000.00

CORONER

Billy Allen
Coroner
2443 SCR 538
Morton, MS 39117
Phone: 601 537-3392
Fax: 601 537-3590

The office of coroner is filled through an at large election. A county coroner serves a four year term, with the office-holder eligible to immediately succeed themselves.

REQUIREMENTS

Each candidate for the office of coroner must, as a minimum,
• Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent,
• Be twenty-one (21) years of age or older
• Be a qualified elector of the county in which elected.
• Attend the Mississippi Crime Laboratory and State Medical Examiner Death Investigation Training School, successfully completing all exams on the subject matter presented
Each coroner elected is recognized as a county medical examiner (CME) or county medical examiner investigator (CMEI). A CME is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or osteopathic medicine (D.O.) licensed in the Sate of Mississippi, while a CMEI is a nonphyscian possessing, as a minimum, a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The coroner is then designated as the chief medical examiner or chief medical examiner investigator for the county following the completion of the Death Investigation Training School.

In addition to the successful completion of the Death Investigation Training School, the CME/CMEI must successfully complete additional training on subject material presented by the State Medical Examiner at least once every four (4) years.

Moreover, the CME/CMEI must also receive at least twenty-four (24) hours of continuing education annually. If the continuing education standards are not met, the CME/CMEI is disqualified and removed from office.

The CME/CMEI, with the Board of Supervisors, may appoint deputy medical examiners or deputy medical examiner investigators as deemed necessary.
All deputies possess the same authority and duties and are subject to the same qualifications, training, and certification requirements as any CME/CMEI. The CME/CMEI is responsible for assuring readily available death investigators for the county twenty-four (24) hour-a-day for the investigation of all deaths “affecting the public interest.”

A DEATH AFFECTING THE PUBLIC INTEREST INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

• Violent death, including homicidal, suicidal or accidental death.
• Death caused by thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation injury.
• Death caused by criminal abortion, including self-induced abortion, or abortion related to sexual abuse.
• Death related to disease thought to be virulent or contagious which may constitute a public hazard.
• Death that has occurred unexpectedly or from an unexplained cause.
• Death of a person confined in a prison, jail or correctional institution.
• Death of a person where a physician was not in attendance with thirty-six (36) hours preceding death, or in pre-diagnosed terminal or bedfast cases, within thirty (30) days preceding death.
• Death of a person where the body is not claimed by a relative or a friend.
• Death of a person where the identity of the deceased is unknown.
• Death of a child under the age of two (2) years where death results from an unknown cause or where the circumstances surrounding the death indicated that sudden infant death syndrome may be the cause of death.
• Where a body is brought into this state for disposal and there is reason to believe either that the death was not investigated properly or that there is not an adequate certificate of death.
• Where a person is presented to a hospital emergency room unconscious and/or unresponsive, with cardiopulmonary resuscitative measures being performed, and dies within twenty-four (24) hours of admission without regaining consciousness or responsiveness, unless a physician was in attendance with thirty-six (36) hours preceding presentation to the hospital, or in cases in which the decedent had a pre-diagnosed terminal or bedfast condition, unless a physician was in attendance with thirty (30) days preceding presentation to the hospital.