Mississippi Republicans are moving full steam ahead in their plans to create a separate court system and expanded police jurisdiction within the city of Jackson.
On Monday, a judge denied an injunction to block House Bill 1020 from becoming law, pushing the Republicans one step closer to appointing judges and overstepping voters.
According to Mississippi Today, Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas believed the plaintiffs didn’t provide enough evidence that appointing judges and creating the Capitol Complex Improvement District court are unconstitutional “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Thomas wrote in his memorandum.
“As a lifelong resident of Hinds County and a faithful voter in local elections, this Chancellor is keenly aware of the Plaintiff’s expressed feelings regarding the appointment of special circuit judges and the creation of a CCID court,” wrote Thomas. “However, disappointment and frustration with the legislative process does not create a judicial right to relief.”
The judge also wrote in the court memorandum that the plaintiffs didn’t prove that an injunction was needed to prevent irreparable harm and that the challenged provisions of HB 1020 are not unconstitutional, therefore don’t create any constitutional rights violations.
The bill, House Bill 1020, would not only expand areas of Jackson patrolled by a state-run Capitol Police force but also create a new court system with judges that are appointed rather than elected by voters. All appointments would be handled by white state officials. Jackson, Mississippi is more than 80% percent Black, arguably the Blackest city percentage-wise in the United States. Sadly, 33.8% of the state’s Black population lives below the poverty line.
HB 1020 is set to go into effect on July 1.
Once the bill is passed by the House, it will be sent to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for approval.
Below is a breakdown of how House Bill 1020 would work:
Despite local voters electing judges and prosecutors, the white chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court would appoint judges to oversee a new district within the city.
Judges would also not be required to live in Jackson or the county where it’s located.
According to AP, the court would have the same power as municipal courts, which handles misdemeanor cases, traffic violations and initial appearances for some criminal charges.
The white state public safety commissioner would then oversee an expanded Capitol Police force, run currently by a white chief.
House Bill 1020 would also double the funding for the district to $20 million to help increase the size of the Capitol police force in the state.
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