Court Systems


The Chancery Judges hear special court cases involving wills and estates, support and custody of minor children, divorces and alimony, and lunacy or commitment hearings. The Judges are known as equity Judges whose area of duty involves more than narrow and rigid interpretations of laws and focuses on protection of individual rights. The Judges also handle other matters, such as petitions to incorporate or enlarge a city, the establishment and management of drainage districts, children’s welfare funds, and other projects.

District Eleven (11)

Judge Robert G. Clark, III
116 E. China Street
P. O. Box 39
Lexington, MS 39095
(662) 834-1285 (Office)

Judge Cynthia Brewer
P. O. Box 404
Canton, MS 39046
(601) 855-5512 (Office)


Circuit Courts hear felony criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. Circuit Courts hear appeals from County, Justice and Municipal courts and from administrative boards and commissions, such as the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Circuit Court judges are selected in non-partisan elections to serve four-year terms.

Trials are heard with a 12-member jury and usually one or two alternate jurors. A judge may preside without a jury if the dispute is a question of law rather than fact.

21st District
Jannie M. Lewis, Circuit Court Judge
Holmes County Circuit Court Complex

22549 Depot Street
P. O. Box 149
Lexington, MS 39095
(662) 834-1452 (Office)


Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims civil cases involving amounts of $3,500 or less, misdemeanor criminal cases and any traffic offense that occurs outside a municipality. Justice Court judges may conduct bond hearings and preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases and may issue search warrants.

Justice Court judges are the only Mississippi judges elected in partisan races. They serve four-year terms.

Justice Court Judges:
Judge Shirley Neal
Judge Jerry Fisher
200 Court Sq., Lexington, MS 39095
(662) 834-4565 (Office)

The distinction between civil and criminal cases is an important one. In a civil case, a trial or contested matter occurs between two or more persons, while in a criminal case, the trial is between the State of Mississippi and a person accused of committing a crime. This is true even when a criminal case is begun by the victim of a crime filing an affidavit charging someone with criminal activity.


Youth Court serves many important functions. For example, the youth court has exclusive jurisdiction or power over : (1) Hearings when a child commits a delinquent act – an act that would carry criminal punishments if committed by an adult; (2) Hearings when a child has been abused or neglected – whether it be physical, mental or sexual abuse/neglect; (3) Hearings when a child is unruly or in need of supervision and is a dependent child; (4) involuntary committals of children in need of special care or mental treatment. Youth Court may also hear cases to terminate parental rights when parent(s) have failed or neglected certain key duties to the child or children. The County Court may also serve as place where child support claims and issues of paternity are presented; this is a shared or concurrent power with Chancery Court system.

The Mississippi Youth Court Laws are to be liberally construed to provide that each child [in youth court] shall become a responsible, accountable and productive citizen, and that each such child shall receive such care, guidance and control, preferably in such child’s own home as is conducive toward that end and is in the state’s and the child’s best interest.

It is the public policy of Mississippi that the parents of each child shall be primarily responsible for the care, support, education and welfare of such child or children; however, when it is necessary that a child be removed from the control of such child’s parents, the Youth Court shall secure proper care for that child or children.

NOTE: The two principal factors determine the jurisdiction of Youth Court: age and conduct. The outer limit for Youth Court is eighteen (18) years of age. [The age at the time of the offense.]

John M. Gilmore, Youth Court Referee
15288 S. Jackson St.
P.O. Box 151
Durant, MS 39063
(662) 653-3030 (Office)
(662) 653-3090 (Fax)

J. David Wynne, Youth Court Prosecutor
116 Court Square
P.O. Box 90
Lexington, MS 39095
(662) 834-3600 (Office)

Karen Hunter, Youth Court Counselor
P.O. Box 120
Lexington, MS 39095
(662) 834-1511 (Office)
(662) 834-3362 (Fax)