Close this search box.

State-Run Court Blocked in Jackson As NAACP Appeals H.B. 1020 Case

Two women stand side by side in a crowd. They both are wearing black tshirts with the words HB-1020 struck out
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a temporary stay on Dec. 31, 2023, blocking the implementation of the state-run and state-appointed court system to oversee the Capitol Complex Improvement District. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The creation of a state-run municipal court system in Jackson, Miss., is temporarily blocked after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a New Year’s Eve order delaying House Bill 1020’s implementation.

The news came hours after U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate rejected a request from the NAACP to delay the establishment of the court to oversee the Capitol Complex Improvement District that had been set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. Under the law, the Mississippi Supreme Court chief justice would make the appointments.

“None of the Plaintiffs has alleged that he or she is in actual or imminent danger of experiencing any concrete and particularized injury resulting from the establishment of the CCID Court or the challenged appointment of a judge or prosecutors for that court,” Wingate wrote in his decision on Dec. 31, the Associated Press reported the same day.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a temporary block of the start of the Capitol Complex Improvement District’s state-run court system on Dec. 31, 2023.

But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NAACP’s request to delay the start of the new court system, allowing for a temporary stay until Jan. 5, and ordered Wingate to “issue a final appealable order” by noon Wednesday.

Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1020 into law in April 2023 to establish the new courts. The NAACP, representing Jackson residents, filed a complaint on April 21, 2023, arguing that the creation of a separate court system was unconstitutional. The U.S. Department of Justice followed suit in a July 12, 2023, motion to intervene, saying “the Mississippi Legislature has shortchanged Hinds County’s criminal justice system” for decades.

The mostly white group of Mississippi lawmakers who backed the law argued that the new court system would quell crime in majority-Black Jackson and make residents safer. However, opponents of the law say it is another example of state lawmakers attempting to dilute the power of Black voters to elect their own judges in the capital city.

Judge Henry T. Wingate
U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate rejected an NAACP request to block the implementation of the Capitol Complex Improvement District’s state-run court system in Jackson, Miss., on Dec. 31, 2023. Photo courtesy of Judge Henry T. Wingate

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on H. B. 1020 in a separate case on Sept. 21, 2023, saying that the creation of the state-run municipal court system was legal but striking down part of it that would have allowed Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph to also make temporary appointments to the Hinds County Circuit Court.

Wingate now has until noon on Jan. 3 to issue a final order on the NAACP’s request to block the CCID courts.

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one.