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Levels of Courts Explained

By: Scotty Edward Chabert Jr.

Both Louisiana and Mississippi have levels of state trial courts, appellate courts, a state supreme, and federal courts. Cases usually start in the trial courts and move through the court of appeal and the supreme court. Below is a rundown of the types of courts and their functions.

Trial courts are courts of original jurisdiction where most civil and criminal cases begin. They involve a jury or judge, evidence, and testimony, and the findings may be appealed to higher courts with appellate and review powers.

Don’t be confused, let us guide you through Louisiana and Mississippi courts.  In Louisiana, there are district trial courts, criminal courts, juvenile, family, parish, city, mayor, and justice of the peace courts.  In Mississippi, the trial courts include circuit courts, chancery courts, county courts, justice courts, and municipal courts. There are many courts in both states, and all have their own land mines without proper representation.

Federal Courts – Beyond State Jurisdiction

In addition to state courts, both Louisiana and Mississippi have federal United States district courts and federal bankruptcy courts. Louisiana hosts three federal district courts and three federal bankruptcy courts, while Mississippi houses two federal district courts and two federal bankruptcy courts. Additionally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over federal trial courts in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  The Fifth Circuit Courthouse is located in New Orleans, LA. 

Federal district court judges preside over a wide range of criminal and civil cases. It is important to differentiate between federal district courts and judicial district courts, both of which function as trial courts. In Louisiana, there are 42 judicial district courts—one for each judicial district. Contrasting this, Louisiana has only three federal district courts, and Mississippi has two. These federal district courts are organized according to larger federal districts:


  • Federal United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • Federal United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana
  • Federal United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana


  • Federal United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
  • Federal United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

State Courts – The Appeals Process

State Court of Appeals

In Louisiana, the state courts of appeals are those which have appellate jurisdiction for all civil matters originating in city and parish courts. Such matters include workers’ comp review, appeals from family and juvenile courts, and criminal cases excluding capital offenses.

In Mississippi, the state courts of appeals are those which hear and decide appeals from the trial courts. The state’s supreme court assigned these cases to the court of appeals, usually in cases where the law is settled but there remains a dispute about the facts of the case.

State Supreme Court

In both Louisiana and Mississippi, the supreme court serves as the court of last resort, representing the highest judicial authority with ultimate appellate jurisdiction. Consequently, its decisions are final and not subject to further review by other courts. The primary purpose of these decisions is to offer clarity to lower courts in handling cases.

In Louisiana, the supreme court holds exclusive original jurisdiction over cases involving disciplinary actions against lawyers and judges. Additionally, it exercises appellate jurisdiction in instances of unconstitutional laws, death sentences, and civil cases. Furthermore, if conflicting judgments arise in other courts, the supreme court may choose to review the cases to facilitate resolution.

In Mississippi, the supreme court’s jurisdiction extends to appeals in cases related to capital punishment, as well as a wide array of other matters such as annexations, bonds, constitutionality, attorney and judge discipline, elections, and more.


The court systems of Louisiana and Mississippi are similar, but each has some differences that make it unique to navigate. Saunders & Chabert provides expert guidance in both systems for anyone that finds themselves involved in cases of injuries and accidents. Contact us today for more information about how to protect your rights and get the financial compensation you deserve.

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