THE THREE BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT 483 much of the territorial period, the territorial judges, who were appointed by the president of the United States per Congress, and the territorial system established by Governor Sargent formed the judicial system. The judges of the former system served for life, but the judges of the latter served at the will and pleasure of the territorial governor. Before statehood, Governor Winthrop’s nascent judicial system, aided by federal legislation that gave Congress’s blessing to his improvised system, would grow. Also, not to be confused with today’s modern system of federal and state courts, the territorial courts established by Governor Winthrop were, in point of fact, federal courts, even if their exact nature and authority remained amorphous. The sparsely-populated Mississippi Territory grew in population, at least in specific geographical locations such as Natchez, and the territorial and federal systems evolved. Two years after the incorporation of Natchez in 1803, the legislature created something of a municipal court— apparently the first of its kind in the territory. However, the Mayor’s Court, as it was known, acted against debtors in such a stern manner as to earn the ire of the public—to the point that a grand jury found it to be a public nuisance and its jurisdiction curtailed. There were other pre-statehood perturbations. In 1804, Congress provided for a new federal judge whose court would exercise original jurisdiction in the territory—thereby taking from the territorial courts the right to oversee cases. Appeals from the new federal court were to be overseen by federal courts, rather than the territorial Supreme Court. Any appeals from there would be sent to the Supreme Court of the United States. By 1810, the Mississippi Territory had six counties, and these counties were served by Courts of General Quarter Session and Courts of Common Pleas (the “county courts.”) Each county also had “superior court of law and equity,” which took the trial jurisdiction formerly entrusted to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was abolished, and the individual judges of the superior courts oversaw the county courts. Soon thereafter the Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals was formed, and it oversaw the superior courts. Accordingly, with a few fits, starts, and stumbles, the territorial courts grew and evolved, setting the stage for the formation of state courts with the coming of statehood in 1817. The choppy history of the territorial courts, especially the initiative displayed by Governor Sargent’s creation of courts by fiat even as Congress also provided for courts, might seem confused or even frantic to the reader of today. We are accustomed to a system that has had more than 200 years to be established—and far more than that if one takes into account the English system upon which so much of the American and Mississippi court systems are based. However, it must be remembered that the Mississippi Territory formed at a time that was formative for the nation itself. After all, Congress passed the act establishing the territory only one year after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The evolution did not end with statehood, either. Mississippi’s several constitutions all provided for variances in its court system, as will be seen below. Courts Under the Constitution of 1817 George Poindexter, who served as a territorial judge prior to statehood, played the primary role in drafting Mississippi’s 1817 Constitution. Poindexter, a native of Virginia, moved to Mississippi and practiced law in Natchez. He would go on to serve as governor of Mississippi and as a U.S. Senator. After the adoption of the 1817 constitution, Poindexter also drafted Mississippi’s first legal compendium, known as the Poindexter Code, infamous for its harshness. The Poindexter Code, also called the Bloody Code, delineated many capital crimes and often prescribed as punishment—for men and women both— branding and public flogging. Calls for its repeal buttressed the efforts of those calling for constitutional reform in the next decade. Many of the rights retained by Mississippi’s first state citizens and pertinent to the courts are the same as those found in the Constitution of the United States and familiar to us all. Article 1, Section 10 ensured, among other things, the right of counsel, the right to confront adverse witnesses, a protection against self-incrimination, and the right to a speedy trial in criminal prosecutions. Section 13 provided protection against double-jeopardy. Section 14 provided, “All courts shall be open, and every person for any injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law....” In other words and without going into further detail, much of the substance of the 1817 constitution matches the rights Mississippians enjoy today when they appear in the courts of the State. The 1817 constitution placed the judicial power of the State “in one supreme court, and such superior and inferior courts of law and equity as the Legislature may, from time to time, direct and establish.” It established a judiciary that consisted of four to eight judges of both the supreme and the superior courts, thereby providing for a system wherein a judge would sit as both a trial judge and an appellate judge. Judges were prohibited from acting as a member of the Supreme Court on cases on which they served as the trial judge. Judges held their offices “during good behavior,” except that no person could serve as a judge, or continue service as a judge, after reaching the age of sixty-five. Although the 1817 constitution acknowledged the impeachment of judges, it also provided that judges could