Law \ Legal

Some Mississippi Courts Keep Search Warrant Records from the Public

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A recent investigation has found that almost two-thirds of Mississippi’s county-level justice courts prevent access to some or all search warrants and related documents, and municipal courts in at least five of the state’s 10 largest cities, including Jackson, the state’s capital, have followed suit, reports Caleb Bedillion for Propublica and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The judges who preside over these courtrooms are similar to justices of the peace in other states and are not required to have a law degree.

Some of those courts violate state rules by failing to require law enforcement to return search warrants and related documents. Other courts keep search warrant records but won’t let the public see them, defying well-established jurisprudence. Experts say record-keeping and access problems in Mississippi’s justice courts are extreme, with many search warrants being no-knocks signed by judges even when police don’t apply for one. In addition, more than a third of Mississippi’s justice courts are breaking rules that require them to keep all search warrant records.

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