Media Contact

January 26, 2023


JACKSON, Miss. – Wednesday night, the Mississippi House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee passed House Bill 1020, a one-thousand-page legislative scheme that creates a new Judicial District within the City of Jackson, taking voting and political power away from the majority Black citizens. 

The bill now moves to the House floor.

The ACLU of Mississippi has released the following statement about HB 1020:

HB 1020 is a move to take voting power, political power, and tax revenue away from the majority Black citizens of Jackson. The legislation illegally empowers Judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court and prosecutors appointed by the State Attorney General to oversee criminal and civil cases in Jackson. These judges and prosecutors will be unelected and unaccountable to the citizens of Jackson. But they would have authority over a large segment of Jackson’s criminal and civil court system.

The Legislature would use the boundary lines created under the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) to establish this undemocratic court system. HB 1020 gives CCID Courts jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters that occurred or accrued with the legislatively defined lines of the CCID and exclusive jurisdiction over cases where the State is a party. 

It strips away power from the democratically elected Hinds County District Attorney and allows appointed prosecutors to try misdemeanor and felony offenses based on affidavits from the Capitol Police Chief.  

HB 1020 would also allow CCID judges to hear civil matters usually heard in Hinds County Circuit, Chancery, or Justice Courts. In fact, the CCID courts would have exclusive jurisdiction on matters currently before the Justice Court that deal with eminent domain and partition of land.

The Legislature originally created the CCID to serve as a vehicle for the State to provide additional infrastructure resources to Jackson, but HB 1020 would create a new scheme to take millions in sales tax dollars away from the City of Jackson and to give to the CCID. While this tax revenue would come from the citizens of Jackson, the bill extends the CCID into the City of Ridgeland. The CCID could then fund infrastructure projects inside Madison County. 

The Legislature wants to use HB 1020 to disenfranchise the majority Black residents of Jackson. The Legislature would establish an undemocratic court system that recalls the State’s Jim Crow past through this bill.  

Jackson would be the only community in the State where unelected judges and prosecutors have jurisdiction over criminal and civil law matters. While Section 172 of the State Constitution grants the Legislature the authority to create “inferior” courts, the judicial system envisioned in HB 1020 would be inferior in name only.

We believe the Legislature is exceeding this power and violating Section 156 of the State Constitution, which gives the circuit court “original jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal not vested by this Constitution in some other court.”