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Court Division

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The Columbus Municipal Court has jurisdiction over traffic and misdemeanor criminal offense as defined by State Statue and City Ordinances that occur within the city of Columbus.

Municipal Court Personnel

  • Municipal Judge: Gary S. Goodwin
  • Municipal Judge: Rhonda Hayes-Ellis
  • Municipal Prosecutor: Dennis Harmon
  • Court Administrator: Wendy F. Blunt
  • Asst. Court Clerk: Linda Weaver

Deputy Court Clerks

  • Lisa Lang
  • LaTarsha Brandon
  • Kimberly Stinson
  • Tracy Smith

Location

1501 Main Street;  Columbus, MS 39701.

Hours of Operation

We are available for phone calls and court documents Monday-Thursday 7:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. except on Thursday when we close to the public at noon for lunch. Payments are accepted during those hours. Our phone number is 662-244-3500 option 3

The City of Columbus Municipal Court begins at 8:00 a.m. every Thursday (excluding some holiday weeks or emergencies). You must be present at that time to avoid delay in your case or a warrant being issued for your arrest. All trials are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. If you are subpoenaed for a case, you are expected to be present in the court room at 1:00 p.m. 

Court Appearances

The first appearance in Municipal Court is called an arraignment.  At this time you will be called upon to enter a plea (or answer) to the charge levied against you.

You may plead guilty indicating that you admit you committed the offense and wish to waive your right to a trial; no contest indicating that you do not admit the charge but do NOT wish to contest the charge; or not guilty indicating to the court that you wish to contest the charge and are exercising your right to a trial.

Should you plead guilty or no contest the case will proceed immediately to the sentencing phase.

You are still permitted to appeal your case to Circuit Court should you so desire.  Should you plead not guilty you will receive a trial date at some point in the near future.

Court dates are always on Thursdays.  Your ticket or bond will indicate the actual date and the time of day you are to appear. 

In municipal courts in this state, trials are by judge only.  You may be represented by an attorney authorized to practice in this state or you may represent yourself.

If you choose to represent yourself, you must conform to all rules of court including rules of evidence.  No court may lessen this requirement simply because you are not legally trained.  In a trial you are also entitled to certain rights, including:

1.         Right to a copy of the affidavit.

2.         Right to hear all testimony against you.

3.         Right to cross examine witnesses against you.

4.         Right to testify on your own behalf.

5.         Right to decline to testify without any inference drawn against you.

6.         Right to call witnesses on your own behalf.  Should you need to subpoena witnesses the clerk will do so if you provide a list of the witnesses and their addresses at least 10 days prior to the trial.

Should you fail to appear for trial these rights are waived and the case may be tried without you (trial in absence) .

Payment of Fines

Fines/costs are due in full on the day of assessment.  This will be either the day you plead guilty or the day you may be found guilty.  There is never a fine when you are found not guilty.

Tickets must be paid in full so the outcome can be reported immediately to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Fine Schedule can be found here.

All payments can be mailed to the following address:

City of Columbus

Court Department

1501 Main Street

Columbus, MS  39701

Larger misdemeanor fines may be paid according to a payment plan but only after an initial payment is made. The initial payment shall be a minimum $25.00 and is due on the date of assessment.  NOTE:  Payment plan request must be made and signed in person by the defendant.  Remember that release on a payment plan is a privilege afforded by the Court and a violation of the payment order will result in your immediate arrest.

Driving School

Mississippi law allows the Court to send an offender to driving school under certain conditions to keep the offense off your driving record.

This provides that the violation is not subject to public view and is allowed under the following conditions:  (1) that you possess a valid Mississippi Driver’s License; (2) that you have had no conviction for a moving violation in this state or any other state within the last three years; (3) that you pay the applicable fine; (4) That you pay an additional service fee of $10; and (5) that you attend a four hour traffic safety violator course approved by the court.

Upon Completion of the Class

Once the four-hour class has been completed, the instructor will issue a certificate that can be mailed or brought to the Court Office:

City of Columbus

Municipal Court

1501 Main Street

Columbus, MS 39701

Once the certificate has been received by the Court Office, the ticket will be dismissed (in the youth's case) or not reported to the State (in the adult's case).

The City of Columbus Municipal Court also offers a Community Public Work Program that allows you to work your fines/costs off at the rate of $7.25 per hour.  NOTE:  Court ordered Restitution cannot be worked off.  All Restitution must be paid CASH, MONEY ORDER or CHECK ONLY

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

  1. Can I speak with the Judge about my case?

    Speaking with the Judge about your case outside of open court is defined as ex-parte communication. Judges are strictly prohibited from engaging in ex-parte communication as dictated by the Judicial Cannons of Ethics. This communication includes email, text messages, phone calls and personal contact. Therefore, any communication with the Judge concerning a matter that is before his court or any matter that will be before his court may only occur in open court in front of the bench.

     

  2. Can you answer questions about my case?

    Municipal Court Staff can only answer questions concerning procedure. We are strictly prohibited from providing you with legal advice. If you have questions concerning legal matters, we recommend that you consult with an attorney.

     

  3. I missed my court date. What Should I do?

     

    1. If an individual misses a court date for a traffic citation, the case is automatically continued for 2 weeks and our office mails a letter to the address on your driver’s license advising you of the missed court date. If you fail to appear for your second court date, 2 weeks after your initial court date, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest and suspend your driver’s license.

       

    2. If you posted a bond through a bonding company for ANY type of charge and miss the    court date that is listed on the bond, the court issues a Judgement NISI to the bonding company and immediately issues a warrant for your arrest. Further, if you miss ANY continued court date while you are on bond, an arrest warrant will be issued immediately. C.

       

    3. If you received a citation for a misdemeanor such as possession of beer by a minor, simple possession of marijuana, etc and were not required to post a bond, you are expected to appear at the date and time listed on your summons. If you fail to appear, the court will notify the police officer to establish probable cause for an arrest warrant. Once that occurs, the police department will have an active warrant for your arrest.

       

  4. I received a ticket for no proof of insurance, but I have insurance. What should I do?

     

    1.  If you have proof of valid insurance at the time of the stop but simply did not have your proof, you can appear at the municipal court M-F from 8-5 and provide a copy of your valid insurance card. The insurance must show valid on the date you received your citation on either 1: the defendant or 2: the vehicle that was being driven at the time of the stop. In this scenario, the court may consider a dismissal of the charge.

       

    2.  If you did not have valid insurance at the time of the stop but have it now, you must show proof to the court on your scheduled court date. The proof must show either 1: valid insurance on the vehicle you were driving or 2: valid insurance under the name of the defendant on ANY vehicle. In this scenario, the court may consider suspending a portion of the $500.00 fine.
  5. How can I get my driver’s license reinstated? 

A. Contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) that issued your driver’s license. For MS inquiries please refer to the DPS link on this site.

B. Contact the Court that requested your driving privileges to be suspended

        6. Who handles delinquent fine collections?

If you have been contacted by American Municipal Services (AMS), please contact this agency at 800.555.5160. The court CAN NOT take or make payment arrangements.

 

COURT RULES

  • No children under 14 years of age are allowed in the courtroom.
  • Absolutely no cell phones, pagers or other electronic devices are allowed in the courtroom. DO NOT BRING THEM IN THE BUILDING!
  • Do not approach court personnel in the courtroom unless your name is called.
  • Excessive talking and/or bad attitudes will not be tolerated.

DRESS CODE

  • No halter tops allowed.
  • No revealing clothing allowed.
  • No tank tops or muscle shirts allowed.
  • No shorts or miniskirts allowed.
  • No T-shirts with offensive writing or emblems are allowed.

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