THE THREE BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT 493 system of courts has continued to grow to handle increased amounts of litigation. In 1950, an amendment added Section 145B to the 1890 constitution to increase the number of justices from six to nine. Even so, in the 1990’s a realization grew that Mississippi’s legal system would benefit from an intermediary appellate court. However, concerns that the constitution required all appeals from Mississippi’s trial courts to proceed directly to the Supreme Court posed problems for the formation of the intermediary court. A system mirroring the federal one, where appeals go directly to the intermediary Circuit Courts of Appeals, would not work. With much input from the Mississippi Bar, the legislature acted in 1993 to create the ten-member Court of Appeals. To avoid the constitutional problem outlined above, the Supreme Court assigned cases to the Court of Appeals. Thereby, all appeals were still brought before the Supreme Court, as required. The new appellate court began operations in 1995. Since its creation, the Court of Appeals has issued hundreds of opinions a year and has performed excellent work in the service of a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary. There have been other firsts in addition to the creation of the first intermediary court of appeals. Governor John Bell Williams appointed Lenore Prather to serve as a chancery court judge in 1971, which made her the first female to hold the office in the history of the state. In 1982 Governor William F. Winter appointed her to the Supreme Court, making her the first female justice. She later became the first female presiding justice and first female chief justice. In 1985, Rueben Anderson became the first African American justice to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Today, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the circuit courts, chancery courts, and all other courts work to provide a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary for the state. Matters that affect the safety, property, and very lives of Mississippi’s citizens come before its courts daily. Mississippi Courts Municipal Court – Consists of 237 courts and 259 judges; court of limited jurisdiction; municipal ordinance violations; limited criminal jurisdiction. Justice Court – Consists of eighty-two courts and 197 judges; court of limited jurisdiction; civil actions under $3,500; limited criminal jurisdiction. County Court – Consists of twenty-one counties and thirty judges; court of limited jurisdiction; civil actions under $200,000; limited criminal jurisdiction; juvenile cases; appeals de novo. Chancery Court – Consists of twenty districts and fifty-two chancellors; court of general jurisdiction; equity, domestic relations, land disputes, estates, guardianships, mental commitments; hears juvenile cases if no county court; appeal de novo or on record. Circuit Court – Consists of twenty-two districts and fifty- seven judges; court of general jurisdiction; civil actions over $200; general criminal jurisdiction; all other cases; appeal de novo or on record. Court of Appeals – Consists of ten judges; immediate appellate court; cases assigned by the Supreme Court. Supreme Court – Consists of nine justices; court of last resort; appellate jurisdiction over all matters. PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL