MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1998 Regular Session

To: Juvenile Justice; Appropriations

By: Senator(s) Smith, Furniss, Stogner, Jackson

Senate Bill 2633

AN ACT TO ABOLISH ALL FAMILY COURTS AND PROVIDE FOR THE TRANSFER OF CASES TO THE APPROPRIATE COUNTY COURT; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 43-23-1 THROUGH 43-23-55, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF FAMILY COURTS; TO AMEND SECTION 9-9-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE CONTINUATION OR ESTABLISHMENT OF COUNTY COURTS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES; TO AMEND SECTION 9-9-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE QUALIFICATION AND SENIORITY OF THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COURT JUDGE; TO AMEND SECTION 9-9-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO AMEND SECTION 9-9-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE COMPENSATION OF THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COURT JUDGE; TO AMEND SECTION 9-7-126, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE COUNTY COMPENSATION TO CIRCUIT CLERKS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES; TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-975 AND 23-15-977, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-19, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE AUTHORITY OF JUDGES TO GRANT REMEDIAL WRITS; TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE COUNTY COURT JUDGES AS THOSE WHO ARE CONSERVATORS OF THE PEACE; TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE COUNTY COURT JUDGES AMONG THOSE WHO ARE NOT TO PRACTICE LAW; TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-35, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE COUNTY COURT TO OBTAIN A SEAL; TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-36, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE COUNTY COURT JUDGES AMONG THOSE FOR WHOM AN OFFICE ALLOWANCE IS APPROPRIATED; TO AMEND SECTION 9-9-19, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR THE HOLDING OF COUNTY COURT IN CERTAIN COUNTIES; TO AMEND SECTIONS 9-9-21, 9-9-23 AND 43-21-107, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-111, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR A PARTIAL STATE FUNDING OF YOUTH COURT REFEREES IN COUNTIES NOT HAVING A COUNTY COURT; TO AMEND SECTIONS 43-21-123, 9-13-17 AND 9-13-61, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COUNTY COURT BY AGREEMENT BETWEEN TWO OR MORE COUNTIES; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH AUTHORIZES CERTAIN MUNICIPALITIES TO SUPPLEMENT THE SALARIES OF COUNTY JUDGES; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-14, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH AUTHORIZES TWO COUNTY JUDGESHIPS FOR HARRISON COUNTY; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH AUTHORIZES THREE COUNTY JUDGESHIPS FOR HINDS COUNTY; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-16, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH AUTHORIZES TWO COUNTY JUDGESHIPS FOR WASHINGTON COUNTY; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH AUTHORIZES TWO COUNTY JUDGESHIPS FOR JACKSON COUNTY; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OR ABOLITION OF COUNTY COURTS; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR TRANSFER OF PENDING MATTERS IN ANY COUNTY COURT THAT MAY BE ABOLISHED; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-41, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE ABOLITION OF COUNTY COURTS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-43, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH REQUIRES LEGISLATIVE ACTION OR ELECTION FOR ABOLITION OF COUNTY COURTS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES; TO REPEAL SECTION 9-9-45, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH REQUIRES THE ESTABLISHMENT OR ABOLITION OF COUNTY COURTS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

 

SECTION 1. From and after January 1, 1999, all family courts are abolished. All matters pending in any family court abolished shall be transferred to the county court of the county wherein the family court was located without the necessity for any motion or order of court for such transfer.

SECTION 2. Sections 43-23-1, 43-23-3, 43-23-5, 43-23-7, 43-23-9, 43-23-11, 43-23-13, 43-23-15, 43-23-17, 43-23-19, 43-23-21, 43-23-23, 43-23-25, 43-23-27, 43-23-29, 43-23-31, 43-23-33, 43-23-35, 43-23-37, 43-23-39, 43-23-41, 43-23-43, 43-23-45, 43-23-47, 43-23-49, 43-23-51, 43-23-53 and 43-23-55, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provide for the establishment and operation of family courts, are repealed.

SECTION 3. Section 9-9-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-1. (1) There shall be an inferior court to be known as the county court in and for each of the following single county districts:

Adams County;

Bolivar County;

Coahoma County;

DeSoto County;

Forrest County;

Harrison County;

Hinds County;

Jackson County;

Jones County;

Lauderdale County;

Lee County;

Leflore County;

Lowndes County;

Madison County;

Pike County;

Rankin County;

Warren County;

Washington County; and

Yazoo County.

(2) (a) Any two (2) or three (3) counties in the discretion of their respective boards of supervisors may apply to the Administrative Office of Courts to be designated as a county court district upon condition that:

(i) As a group, the counties are contiguous; and

(ii) At least one (1) of the counties has a population of twenty-five thousand five hundred (25,500) or more according to the latest decennial census, or the counties comprising the proposed district have had an annual aggregate caseload in excess of three hundred fifty (350) youth court referrals according to the most recently available Department of Human Services statistics.

(b) The number of multicounty county courts to be formed pursuant to this subsection (2) shall not exceed ten (10). In the event the number of qualified applications for county court formation hereunder exceeds the number allowable, the Administrative Office of Courts shall use such criteria as it deems relevant in approving and denying applications. The Administrative Office of Courts may deny an application which is qualified on its face regardless of whether the maximum number of courts have been formed. Once duly formed, a county court existing under the authority of this subsection (2) shall not be abolished except by act of the Legislature.

(c) Counties wishing to apply for designation as a county court pursuant to the provisions of this subsection (2) shall do so on a form to be prescribed by the Administrative Office of Courts by means of a resolution duly spread upon the minutes of the board of supervisors.

(d) Counties aggrieved by the denial of an application under this subsection (2) have a right of appeal from the decision of the Administrative Office of Courts to the Circuit Court of Hinds County as is otherwise provided by law for appeals from the decisions of administrative agencies.

(3) (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, there shall be one (1) county court judge for each county court district.

(b) There shall be two (2) county court judges for the county court of Jackson County, three (3) county court judges for the county court of Harrison County, and three (3) county court judges for the county court of Hinds County.

(c) For the purposes of the 1998 election only, any candidates for the position of county judge of Harrison County shall file their intent to be a candidate not later than sixty (60) days prior to the general election. The qualification and election of the three (3) judgeships shall otherwise be as provided by Sections 23-15-974 through 23-15-985.

SECTION 4. Section 9-9-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-5. (1) The county judge shall possess all of the qualifications of a circuit judge as prescribed by the Mississippi Constitution. * * * The county judge of a single county district must be a qualified elector of the county. The county judge of a multicounty district must be a qualified elector of any one (1) of the counties comprising the district. Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the county judge shall be elected by the qualified electors of the county court district at the time and in the manner as circuit judges are elected and * * * shall hold office for the same term. Vacancies in the office of county judge shall be filled in the same manner as vacancies in the office of circuit judge.

(2) In a district having more than one (1) office of county court judge, there shall be no distinction whatsoever in the powers, duties and emoluments of those offices except that the judge who has been for the longest time continuously a judge of that court or, should no judge have served longer in office than the others, the judge who has been for the longest time a member of The Mississippi Bar shall be the senior judge. The senior judge shall have the right to assign causes and dockets and, in districts consisting of more than one (1) county, to set terms.

SECTION 5. Section 9-9-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-9. The county judge shall not otherwise practice law * * *, but this prohibition shall not prohibit the judges of the county courts from practicing in any of the courts so far as to enable them to bring to a conclusion cases actually pending when they were appointed or elected, in which such county judges were then employed as provided in Section 9-1-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, for judges of the circuit court and chancellors.

SECTION 6. Section 9-9-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-11. * * * The county court judge shall receive an annual salary payable monthly out of the State General Fund in the amount of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) less than the annual salary which is now or shall hereafter be provided for circuit and chancery judges of this state * * *. * * * The office of county court judge * * * shall be a full-time position, and the holder thereof shall not otherwise engage in the practice of law.

 * * *

SECTION 7. Section 9-7-126, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-7-126. (1) There shall be allowed out of the county treasury from the general county funds or any other available funds payable monthly by the board of supervisors of the county not less than the following amounts for the purposes of defraying the salaries of deputy circuit clerks:

Class 1 and 2 counties not less than Four Hundred Fifty Dollars ($450.00) per month;

Class 3 and 4 counties not less than Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350.00) per month;

Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 counties not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) per month.

The above and foregoing allowances shall be for the purposes of defraying the salaries of deputy circuit clerks provided such allowance, upon written request of the circuit clerk, shall be paid directly to the deputy circuit clerk designated by him in the absence of which request said allowance shall be paid monthly to the circuit clerk. Deputy circuit clerks employed under authority of this section shall be deemed employees of the county. The clerk shall select and supervise their public duties.

(2) This section shall not apply to any county having a county court except that in any county electing to form a county court pursuant to the provisions of Senate Bill No. 2633, 1998 Regular Session, the provisions of subsection (1) shall apply; further, in any county in which U.S. Highway 49 and Mississippi Highway 6 intersect, any county in which U.S. Highway 61 and Mississippi Highway 4 intersect, any county having a population in excess of fifty-seven thousand (57,000) and which is traversed by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway or whose county seat is within twenty (20) miles of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, any county bordering the State of Tennessee and the Mississippi River, and any county in which U.S. Highway 82 and U.S. Highway 49E intersect, the provisions of this section shall be discretionary with the respective board of supervisors.

SECTION 8. Section 23-15-975, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

23-15-975. As used in Sections 23-15-974 through 23-15-985 of this subarticle, the term "judicial office" includes the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, circuit judge, chancellor and county court judge * * *. All such justices and judges shall be full-time positions and such justices and judges shall not engage in the practice of law before any court, administrative agency or other judicial or quasi-judicial forum except as provided by law for finalizing pending cases after election to judicial office.

SECTION 9. Section 23-15-977, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

23-15-977. * * * Except as may be otherwise provided by law, all candidates for judicial office as defined in Section 23-15-975 of this subarticle shall file their intent to be a candidate with the State Board of Election Commissioners not later than the first Friday after the first Monday in May prior to the general election for judicial office and shall pay * * * the following amounts:

(a) Candidates for Supreme Court judge and Court of Appeals, the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00).

(b) Candidates for circuit judge, county judge and chancellor, the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).

 * * *

SECTION 10. Section 9-1-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-1-19. The judges of the Supreme, * * * circuit and county courts, and chancellors and judges of the Court of Appeals, in termtime and in vacation, may severally order the issuance of writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, supersedeas and attachments, and grant injunctions and all other remedial writs, in all cases where the same may properly be granted according to right and justice, returnable to any court, whether the suit or proceedings be pending in the district of the judge or chancellor granting the same or not. The fiat of such judge or chancellor shall authorize the issuance of the process for a writ returnable to the proper court or before the proper officer; and all such process or writs may be granted, issued and executed on Sunday.

SECTION 11. Section 9-1-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-1-23. The judges of the Supreme, circuit and county courts and chancellors and judges of the Court of Appeals shall be conservators of the peace for the state, each with full power to do all acts which conservators of the peace may lawfully do; and the circuit judges, * * * chancellors and county judges shall reside within their respective districts * * *.

SECTION 12. Section 9-1-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-1-25. It shall not be lawful for any judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or a judge of the circuit or county court, or a chancellor to exercise the profession or employment of an attorney or counsellor at law, or to be engaged in the practice of law; and any person offending against this prohibition shall be guilty of a high misdemeanor and be removed from office; but this shall not prohibit a chancellor, * * * circuit judge, county judge or a judge of the Court of Appeals from practicing in any of the courts for a period of six (6) months from the time such judges or chancellors assume office so far as to enable them to bring to a conclusion cases actually pending when they were appointed or elected in which such chancellor or judge was then employed, nor shall a judge of the Supreme Court be hindered from appearing in the courts of the United States in any case in which he was engaged when he was appointed or elected judge.

SECTION 13. Section 9-1-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-1-35. The clerk of the Supreme Court and of the Court of Appeals, at the expense of the state, and the clerk of every circuit, county and chancery court, at the expense of the county, shall keep a seal, with the style of the court around the margin and the image of an eagle in the center.

SECTION 14. Section 9-1-36, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-1-36. (1) Each circuit judge, county judge and chancellor shall receive an office operating allowance for the expenses of operating the office of such judge, including retaining a law clerk, legal research, stenographic help, stationery, stamps, furniture, office equipment, telephone, office rent and other items and expenditures necessary and incident to maintaining the office of judge. Such allowance shall be paid only to the extent of actual expenses incurred by any such judge as itemized and certified by such judge to the Supreme Court and then in an amount of not more than Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum; however, such judge may expend sums in excess thereof from the compensation otherwise provided for his office. No part of this expense or allowance shall be used to pay an official court reporter for services rendered to said court.

(2) In addition to the amounts provided for in subsection (1), there is hereby created a separate office allowance fund for the purpose of providing support staff to judges. This fund shall be managed by the Administrative Office of Courts.

(3) Each judge who desires to employ or continue to employ support staff after July 1, 1994, shall make application to the Administrative Office of Courts by submitting to the Administrative Office of Courts before July 1 of each year a proposed personnel plan setting forth what support staff is deemed necessary. Such plan may be submitted by a single judge or by any combination of judges desiring to share support staff. In the process of the preparation of the plan, the judges, at their request, may receive advice, suggestions, recommendations and other assistance from the Administrative Office of Courts. The Administrative Office of Courts must approve the positions, job descriptions and salaries before the positions may be filled. The Administrative Office of Courts shall not approve any plan which does not first require the expenditure of the funds in the support staff fund for compensation of any of the support staff before expenditure is authorized of county funds for that purpose. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the judge or judges may appoint the employees to the position or positions, and each employee so appointed will work at the will and pleasure of the judge or judges who appointed him but will be employees of the Administrative Office of Courts. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the appointment of any support staff shall be evidenced by the entry of an order on the minutes of the court. When support staff is appointed jointly by two (2) or more judges, the order setting forth any appointment shall be entered on the minutes of each participating court.

(4) The Administrative Office of Courts shall develop and promulgate minimum qualifications for the certification of court administrators. Any court administrator appointed on or after October 1, 1996, shall be required to be certified by the Administrative Office of Courts.

(5) Support staff shall receive compensation pursuant to personnel policies established by the Administrative Office of Courts; however, from and after July 1, 1994, the Administrative Office of Courts shall allocate from the support staff fund an amount not to exceed Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00) per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) per judge for whom support staff is approved for the funding of support staff assigned to a judge or judges. Any employment pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to the provisions of Section 25-1-53.

The Administrative Office of Courts may approve expenditure from the fund for additional equipment for support staff appointed pursuant to this section in any year in which the allocation per judge is sufficient to meet the equipment expense after provision for the compensation of the support staff.

(6) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meaning ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(a) "Judges" means circuit judges, county judges and chancellors, or any combination thereof;

(b) "Support staff" means court administrators, law clerks, legal research assistants or secretaries, or any combination thereof, but shall not mean school attendance officers;

(c) "Compensation" means the gross salary plus all amounts paid for benefits or otherwise as a result of employment or as required by employment; provided, however, that only salary earned for services rendered shall be reported and credited for Public Employees' Retirement System purposes. Amounts paid for benefits or otherwise, including reimbursement for travel expenses, shall not be reported or credited for retirement purposes.

(7) Title to all tangible property, excepting stamps, stationery and minor expendable office supplies, procured with funds authorized by this section, shall be and forever remain in the State of Mississippi to be used by the * * * judge * * * during the term of his office and thereafter by his successors.

(8) Any * * * judge * * * who did not have a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, shall be allowed an additional Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum to defray the actual expenses incurred by such judge * * * in maintaining an office; however, any * * * judge * * * who had a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, and who vacated the office space after such date for a legitimate reason, as determined by the Department of Finance and Administration, shall be allowed the additional office expense allowance provided under this subsection.

(9) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall submit to the Department of Finance and Administration the itemized and certified expenses for office operating allowances that are directed to the court pursuant to this section.

(10) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations regarding the administration of the office operating allowance authorized pursuant to this section.

SECTION 15. Section 9-9-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-19. (1) There shall be a court to be styled "The County Court of the County of _____________________" in each county court as set forth in subsection (2) of this section.

(2) A term of court shall be held in the county courthouse of the county, beginning on the second Monday of each month and continuing so long as may be necessary; but in counties where there are two (2) circuit court districts, or in county courts formed in a multicounty district, the county court shall be convened in each judicial district and in each county not less than four (4) times each year, and the terms of court shall be set and published as is required for circuit and chancery courts. Provided that in the County of Jones, a county having two (2) judicial districts, that a term shall be held in the second judicial district of said county on the second Monday of each month; and provided that in the first judicial district a term shall be held on the fourth Monday of January, the fourth Monday of March, the fourth Monday of April, the fourth Monday of June and the fourth Monday of October. Provided that in the County of Hinds, a county having two (2) judicial districts, a term shall be held in the first judicial district on the second Monday of each month and in the second judicial district on the second Monday of March, June, September and December, and provided further that, when such terms are held concurrently, either of the county judges of Hinds County may be assigned to hold all or any part of such terms in either of the two (2) judicial districts. Provided, further, that in the County of Bolivar, a county having two (2) judicial districts, a term shall be held in the first judicial district on the second Monday of April, August and December, and in the second judicial district on the second Monday of January, February, March, May, June, July, September, October and November. Provided, however, that in the County of Harrison, a county having two (2) county judges and two (2) judicial districts, that a term shall be held in each judicial district concurrently each month. Provided, however, that the judge of the county court for good cause shown may, by order spread on the minutes of the county court, designate some place other than the county courthouse for the holding of such term of the county court as may be designated in said order. The county judge may call a special term of the county court upon giving ten (10) days' notice, and such notice shall be given by posting the same at the front door of the courthouse in said county and by the publication of said notice for one insertion in some newspaper of general circulation in the county.

 * * *

SECTION 16. Section 9-9-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-21. (1) The jurisdiction of the county court shall be as follows: It shall have jurisdiction concurrent with the justice court in all matters, civil and criminal of which the justice court has jurisdiction; and it shall have jurisdiction concurrent with the circuit and chancery courts in all matters of law and equity wherein the amount of value of the thing in controversy shall not exceed, exclusive of costs and interest, the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), and the jurisdiction of the county court shall not be affected by any setoff, counterclaim or cross-bill in such actions where the amount sought to be recovered in such setoff, counterclaim or cross-bill exceeds Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00). Provided, however, the party filing such setoff, counterclaim or cross-bill which exceeds Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) shall give notice to the opposite party or parties as provided in Section 13-3-83, and on motion of all parties filed within twenty (20) days after the filing of such setoff, counterclaim or cross-bill, the county court shall transfer the case to the circuit or chancery court wherein the county court is situated and which would otherwise have jurisdiction. It shall have exclusively the jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the justice court in the following matters and causes: namely, eminent domain, the partition of personal property, and actions of unlawful entry and detainer, provided that the actions of eminent domain and unlawful entry and detainer may be returnable and triable before the judge of said court in vacation.

(2) In * * * multicounty county court districts, it shall be lawful for such court sitting in one (1) county to act upon any and all matters of which it has jurisdiction as provided by law arising in the other county under the jurisdiction of said court.

SECTION 17. Section 9-9-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-23. The county judge shall have power to issue writs, and to try matters, of habeas corpus on application to him therefor, or when made returnable before him by a superior judge. He shall also have the power to order the issuance of writs of certiorari, supersedeas, attachments, and other remedial writs in all cases pending in, or within the jurisdiction of, his court. He shall have the authority to issue search warrants in his district returnable to his own court or to any court of a justice court judge within his district in the same manner as is provided by law for the issuance of search warrants by justice court judges. In all cases pending in, or within the jurisdiction of, his court, he shall have, in term time, and in vacation, the power to order, do or determine to the same extent and in the same manner as a justice court judge or a circuit judge or a chancellor could do in term time or in vacation in such cases. But he shall not have original power to issue writs of injunction, or other remedial writs in equity or in law except in those cases hereinabove specified as being within his jurisdiction. Provided, however, that when any judge or chancellor authorized to issue such writs of injunction, or any other equitable or legal remedial writs hereinabove reserved, shall so direct in writing the hearing of application therefor may be by him referred to the county judge, in which event the said direction of the superior judge shall vest in the said county judge all authority to take such action on said application as the said superior judge could have taken under the right and the law, had the said application been at all times before the said superior judge. The jurisdiction authorized under the foregoing proviso shall cease upon the denying or granting of the application.

SECTION 18. Section 9-9-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-9-29. (1) The county court shall be a court of record and, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the clerk of the circuit court shall be the clerk of the county court, and he or his deputy shall attend all the sessions of the county court, and have present at all sessions, all books, records, files, and papers pertaining to the term then in session. The dockets, minutes, and records of the county court shall be kept, so far as is practicable, in the same manner as are those of the circuit court as provided by statute and the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. The sheriff shall be the executive officer of the county court; he shall by himself, or deputy, attend all its sessions, and he shall serve all process and execute all writs issued therefrom in the manner as such process and writs would be served and executed when issued by the justice courts, or by the circuit or chancery courts according as appertains to the value of the cause or matter in hand. The clerk and sheriff shall receive the same fees for attendance, and for other services as are allowed by law to the clerk and to the sheriffs for like duties in the circuit and chancery courts; provided however, that in all cases where the justice courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the county court, the clerk shall be allowed to receive only such fees as are allowed to justice courts, and the sheriff shall be allowed only such fees as the constable in said justice court would be entitled to under the law for similar services.

(2) The clerk of the chancery court shall be the clerk of the youth court for all counties electing to form a county court pursuant to the provisions of Senate Bill No. 2633, 1998 Regular Session, and the clerk of the chancery court shall perform such duties for the youth court as is otherwise provided by law.

SECTION 19. Section 43-21-107, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

43-21-107.

 * * *

(1) A youth court division is hereby created as a division of the county court of each county now or hereafter having a county court * * *, and the county judge shall be the judge of the youth court unless another judge is named by the county judge as provided by this chapter.

(2) A youth court division is hereby created as a division of the chancery court of each county in which no county court * * * is maintained and any chancellor within a chancery court district shall be the judge of the youth court of that county within such chancery court district unless another judge is named by the senior chancellor of the county or chancery court district as provided by this chapter.

(3) In any county where there is no county court or family court on July 1, 1979, there may be created a youth court division as a division of the municipal court in any city if the governing authorities of such city adopt a resolution to that effect. The cost of the youth court division of the municipal court shall be paid from any funds available to the municipality for such purposes excluding state and county funds.

(4) The Administrative Office of Courts is authorized to require county judges in courts with low youth court caseloads to assist in relieving courts with heavy youth court caseloads provided adequate funds are available for travel and lodging for the county court judges and their court reporters.

SECTION 20. Section 43-21-111, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

43-21-111. (1) In any county not having a county court, * * * the judge may appoint as provided in Section 43-21-123 regular or special referees who shall be attorneys at law and members of the bar in good standing to act in cases concerning children within the jurisdiction of the youth court, and a regular referee shall hold office until removed by the judge. The requirement that regular or special referees appointed pursuant to this subsection be attorneys shall apply only to regular or special referees who were not first appointed regular or special referees prior to July 1, 1991.

(2) Any referee appointed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be required to receive judicial training from the Mississippi Judicial College and shall be required to receive regular annual continuing education in the field of juvenile justice. The Mississippi Judicial College shall determine the amount of judicial training and annual continuing education which shall be satisfactory to fulfill the requirements of this section. The Administrative Office of Courts shall maintain a roll of referees appointed under this section, shall enforce the provisions of this subsection, shall maintain records on all such referees regarding such training and shall not disburse funds to any county for the budget of a youth court referee who is not in compliance with the judicial training requirements. Should a referee miss two (2) consecutive training sessions sponsored by the Mississippi Judicial College as required by this subsection or fail to attend one (1) such training session within six (6) months of their initial appointment as a referee, the referee shall be disqualified to serve and be immediately removed as a referee and another member of the bar shall be appointed as provided in this section.

(3) The judge may direct that hearings in any case or class of cases be conducted in the first instance by the referee. The judge may also delegate his own administrative responsibilities to the referee.

(4) All hearings authorized to be heard by a referee shall proceed in the same manner as hearings before the youth court judge. A referee shall possess all powers and perform all the duties of the youth court judge in the hearings authorized to be heard by the referee.

(5) An order entered by the referee shall be mailed immediately to all parties and their counsel. A rehearing by the judge shall be allowed if any party files a written motion for a rehearing or on the court's own motion within three (3) days after notice of referee's order. The youth court may enlarge the time for filing a motion for a rehearing for good cause shown. Any rehearing shall be upon the record of the hearing before the referee, but additional evidence may be admitted in the discretion of the judge. A motion for a rehearing shall not act as a supersedeas of the referee's order, unless the judge shall so order.

(6) The salary for the referee shall be * * * as provided in Section 43-21-123 and shall be paid by the county out of any available funds budgeted for the youth court by the board of supervisors.

(7) * * * The judge of the chancery court may appoint a suitable person as referee to two (2) or more counties within his district * * *.

SECTION 21. Section 43-21-123, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

43-21-123. (1) Except for expenses provided by state funds and/or other monies, the board of supervisors, or the municipal governing board where there is a municipal youth court, shall adequately provide funds for the operation of the youth court division of the chancery court, or the county courts where county courts are constituted, in conjunction with the regular chancery or county court budget * * *. In preparation for said funding, on an annual basis at the time requested, the youth court judge, regular youth court referee or administrator shall prepare and submit to the board of supervisors, or the municipal governing board of the youth court wherever the youth court is a municipal court, an annual budget which will identify the number, staff position, title and amount of annual or monthly compensation of each position as well as provide for other expenditures necessary to the functioning and operation of the youth court. When the budget of the youth court or youth court judge is approved by the board of supervisors or the governing authority of the municipality, then the youth court or youth court judge may employ such persons as provided in the budget from time to time.

(2) The board of supervisors of any county in which there is located a youth court, and the governing authority of any municipality in which there is located a municipal youth court, are each authorized to reimburse the youth court referees and other county-employed youth court employees or personnel for reasonable travel and expenses incurred in the performance of their duties and in attending educational meetings offering professional training to such persons as budgeted.

(3) The salary for a referee shall be based on a formula established by the Administrative Office of Courts which shall take into account the youth court's caseload. Subject to a cap of One Thousand Seven Hundred Dollars ($1,700.00) per month, the salary for a referee serving in one (1) county shall not exceed the salary of a member of the board of supervisors of that county, and the salary of a referee serving two (2) or more counties shall not exceed an amount equal to the combined salaries of one (1) member of the boards of supervisors of the two (2) highest paid boards of supervisors of the counties served by that referee.

(4) (a) Counties in which a youth or family court existed on January 1, 1998, shall make an annual contribution to the Administrative Office of Courts of Seventy-six Thousand Eight Hundred Dollars ($76,800.00) per youth court judge position that was authorized and funded on that date, or the total 1996 fiscal year expense for compensation and fringe benefits of all youth court judges, whichever is the lesser amount, divided into twelve (12) equal monthly installments. Each installment is due not later than the close of business on the 25th day of the month preceding the month for which the installment is due, or, if the 25th day falls on a holiday or weekend, on the preceding regular business day.

(b) Counties in which a referee salary or salaries were funded as of January 1, 1998, shall make an annual contribution to the Administrative Office of Courts in an amount equal to the total expense for youth court referee salary and any associated expenses of the county for Fiscal Year 1996, divided into twelve (12) equal monthly installments. Each installment is due not later than the close of business on the 25th day of the month preceding the month for which the installment is due, or, if the 25th falls on a holiday or weekend, on the preceding regular business day.

(c) Counties in which neither any referee nor any youth court judge was funded as of January 19, 1998, shall make an annual contribution to the Administrative Office of Courts in an amount to be determined by the Administrative Office of Courts and based on the contributions required of counties of similar size and caseload, divided into twelve (12) equal monthly installments. Each installment is due not later than the close of business on the 25th day of the month preceding the month for which the installment is due, or, if the 25th falls on a holiday or weekend, on the preceding regular business day.

(d) Counties failing to make the financial contributions required by this section shall forfeit their right to receive their homestead exemption reimbursement in an amount sufficient to repay obligations due until such time as their indebtedness is satisfied or satisfactory arrangements have been made. Homestead exemption reimbursements, upon demand made in writing to the State Tax Commission by the Administrative Office of Courts, shall be paid to the Administrative Office of Courts and applied to the discharge of the obligation.

(5) The Administrative Office of Courts shall, in a fair and equitable manner, apportion responsibility for the payment of the salary serving in more than one (1) county among or between the various counties as appropriate.

(6) The Administrative Office of Courts shall allocate, in a fair and equitable manner, support funds to the referee-staffed youth courts, and it shall be within the discretion of the referee whether to use these funds to carry on the business of the court within their private law practice or to direct the use of those funds through the county budget. No such funds shall be paid to any youth court referee or to the county in which the youth court referee is not in current, full compliance with the continuing education requirements of Section 43-21-111.

SECTION 22. Section 9-13-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-13-17. The circuit judge, chancellor * * * or county judge may, by an order spread upon the minutes and made a part of the records of the court, appoint an additional court reporter for a term or part of a term whose duties, qualifications and compensation shall be the same as is now provided by law for official court reporters. The additional court reporter shall be subject to the control of the judge or chancellor, as is now provided by law for official court reporters, and the judge or chancellor shall have the additional power to terminate the appointment of such additional court reporter, whenever in his opinion the necessity for such an additional court reporter ceases to exist, by placing upon the minutes of the court an order to that effect. The regular court reporter shall not draw any compensation while the assistant court reporter alone is serving; however, in the event the assistant court reporter is serving because of the illness of the regular court reporter, the court may authorize payment of said assistant court reporter from the Administrative Office of Courts without diminution of the salary of the regular court reporter, for a period not to exceed forty-five (45) days in any one (1) calendar year. However, in any circuit, chancery or county * * * court district within the State of Mississippi, if the judge or chancellor shall determine that in order to relieve the continuously crowded docket in such district, or for other good cause shown, the appointment of an additional court reporter is necessary for the proper administration of justice, he may, with the advice and consent of the board of supervisors if the court district is composed of a single county and with the advice and consent of at least one-half (1/2) of the boards of supervisors if the court district is composed of more than one (1) county, by an order spread upon the minutes and made a part of the records of the court, appoint an additional court reporter. The additional court reporter shall serve at the will and pleasure of the judge or chancellor, may be a resident of any county of the state, and shall be paid a salary designated by the judge or chancellor not to exceed the salary authorized by Section 9-13-19. The salary of the additional court reporter shall be paid by the Administrative Office of Courts, as provided in Section 9-13-19; and mileage shall be paid to the additional court reporter by the county as provided in the same section. The office of such additional court reporter appointed under this section shall not be abolished or compensation reduced during the term of office of the appointing judge or chancellor without the consent and approval of the appointing judge or chancellor.

SECTION 23. Section 9-13-61, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

9-13-61. There shall be an official court reporter for each county * * * court judge in the State of Mississippi, to be appointed by such judge, for the purpose of performing the necessary and required stenographic work of the court or division thereof over which the appointing judge is presiding, said work to be performed under the direction of such judge and in the same manner and to the same effect as is provided in the chapter on court reporting.

Except as hereinafter provided, the reporters of said courts shall receive an annual salary of not less than Twenty-four Thousand Dollars ($24,000.00) and may, at the discretion of the board of supervisors, receive a monthly salary equal to that of the reporter of the circuit court district wherein the county lies, the same to be paid monthly by the county out of its general fund.

Provided, however, that in any Class 1 county having a population in excess of fifty-six thousand (56,000) persons according to the 1970 federal decennial census, the reporter shall receive a monthly salary equal to that of the reporter of the circuit court district wherein the county or family court lies, the same to be paid monthly by the county out of its general fund.

Provided further, that in any Class 1 county bordering on the Mississippi River and which has situated therein a national military park and national military cemetery, and having a population in excess of forty-four thousand (44,000) according to the 1970 federal decennial census, the reporter shall receive a monthly salary equal to that of the reporter of the circuit court district wherein the county lies, the same to be paid monthly by the county out of its general fund.

Provided further, that in any Class 1 county bordering on the Mississippi River wherein U.S. Highways 61 and 84 intersect, and having a population in excess of thirty-seven thousand (37,000) in the 1960 federal decennial census, the reporter shall receive a monthly salary equal to that of the reporter of the circuit court district wherein the county lies, the same to be paid monthly by the county out of its general fund.

Provided further, that in addition to the foregoing compensation, all county and family court reporters shall be paid the same fees for transcript of the record on appeals as are now or hereafter paid circuit court reporters for like or similar work.

Provided further, that in any multicounty county court district, the county court judge shall appoint the court reporter as provided in this section, and the salary of that court reporter shall be set by the Administrative Office of Courts within the parameters of this section, and the Administrative Office of Courts shall fairly and equitably apportion between or among the counties comprising that court the proportionate responsibilities for the payment of that salary.

SECTION 24. Section 9-9-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the establishment of a county court by agreement between two (2) or more counties, is repealed.

SECTION 25. Section 9-9-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, which restricts the practice of law by a county court judge, is repealed.

SECTION 26. Section 9-9-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, which authorizes the governing body of certain municipalities to supplement the salaries of county judicial officers, is repealed.

SECTION 27. Section 9-9-14, Mississippi Code of 1972, which authorizes two (2) county judgeships for Harrison County, is repealed.

SECTION 28. Section 9-9-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, which authorizes three (3) county judgeships for Hinds County, is repealed.

SECTION 29. Section 9-9-16, Mississippi Code of 1972, which authorizes two (2) county judgeships for Washington County, is repealed.

SECTION 30. Section 9-9-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, which authorizes two (2) county judgeships for Jackson County, is repealed.

SECTION 31. Section 9-9-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the establishment or abolition of county courts, is repealed.

SECTION 32. Section 9-9-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for transfer of pending matters in any county court that may be abolished, is repealed.

SECTION 33. Section 9-9-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the abolition of county courts in certain counties, is repealed.

SECTION 34. Section 9-9-43, Mississippi Code of 1972, which requires legislation action or election for abolition of county courts in certain counties, is repealed.

SECTION 35. Section 9-9-45, Mississippi Code of 1972, which requires the establishment or abolition of county courts under certain circumstances, is repealed.

SECTION 36. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi is hereby directed to submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.

SECTION 37. Section 3(3)(c) of this act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended, and the remainder of this act shall take effect on that date or on October 1, 1998, whichever is later.