HINDS COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – A Hinds County Chancery Court judge ruled against three Jackson residents who filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 1020.
The lawsuit was filed by Ann Saunders, Sabreen Sharrieff, and Dorothy Triplett. They argued that the bill’s provision to allow the Chief Justice of the Mississippi State Supreme Court to appoint judges for a Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) violates the Mississippi constitution.
In a Monday court filling, Judge Dewayne Thomas said the plaintiffs’ claims failed on all merits. He said they were unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the challenged provisions are unconstitutional.
An appeal could be filed in this case.
Under House Bill 1020, Capitol police would be given primary jurisdiction within the expanded Capital Complex Improvement District (CCID) boundary lines. Jackson police would have secondary jurisdiction.
The bill will also allow place certain areas within the majority-Black city — most of them majority-white neighborhoods — under the jurisdiction of a new court system. That new system would send those convicted of misdemeanors to state prisons rather than to county jails, as currently happens, the Clarion-Ledger reported.
It would be run by judges appointed by the Republican-appointed Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court and prosecutors appointed by the Republican attorney general, rather than elected.
In a separate case, a federal judge temporarily blocked House Bill 1020 from becoming law on Friday, May 12.
Mississippi Today reported U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate granted the motion in a lawsuit brought by the NAACP. The NAACP had asked Wingate to block the chief justice from appointing judges under the law while House Bill 1020 is being challenged in court.