Thursday, September 21, 2023

HB #1020 Partially Survives Supremes

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of HB #1020 today.  Simply put: The CCID Court is good, the four special-appointed Circuit Judges are bad. Posted below are the relevant excerpts from the 45-page opinion. 

The Legislature passed HB #1020 this year.  The bill creates a special court similar in function to a municipal court for the CCID, expanded the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police, and allowed the Chief Justice to appoint four special Circuit Judges for 3 1/2 year terms to the bench in Hinds County.  

Jackson residents Dorothy Triplett, Ann Saunders, and Sabreen Sharieff sued in Hinds County Chancery Court to block the appointment of the judges and the creation of the CCID court. 

Hinds County Chancellor Dewayne Thomas denied their request for an injunction against HB #1020.   However, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate barred the appointment of the special judges Friday. The plaintiffs appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

CCID Court

The Legislature had discretion to adopt many but not all features of municipal courts when creating the CCID inferior court. To be sure, some of the CCID inferior court’s features are novel.²³ Saunders has raised specific concerns that persons convicted by the CCID court may be placed in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Correction’s Central Mississippi facility. Id.

§ 4(1)(b).  But deciding where those convicted of misdemeanors may be housed is a legislative policy decision outside this Court’s scope of review.  And the legislation’s inclusion of this permissive feature does not render CCID inferior court unconstitutional.

¶53.  The bottom line is that the Legislature took decisive action to craft an inferior court, an act it deemed necessary to serve the CCID. And it is the constitutionality of this new court that is before us, not whether its creation is a good or a bad idea. Resolving any doubt in favor of the CCID inferior court—considering it has the same jurisdiction as a municipal court, with statutory tracks for appellate and certiorari review of any CCID judgment—we find the circuit court is duly superior to the CCID inferior court. Thus, Saunders cannot meet her burden to prove Section 4 is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.

¶54.  Just as the chancellor did, we too find the CCID inferior court is exactly what the Legislature says it is, an inferior court within the meaning of Article 6, Section 172 of the Mississippi Constitution.

The CCID Court stands as predicted in an earlier post.

Creation of 4 Special Circuit Judges

 ¶60.  Instead, Section 1 creates four additional, unelected circuit court judgeships. These new judgeships are posted within the already existing Seventh Circuit Court District. And instead of election, the legislation mandates the Chief Justice appoint these four new judges. These Section 1 judges have the same power and serve alongside the four already-serving, elected judges. While Section 1 calls the new judges “temporary special circuit judges,” they serve for an almost four-year term. And the text of Section1 shows nothing special or unique about their appointment—it neither is expressly tied to nor even mentions any enumerated exigency or case backlog. In short, reading the plain language of the statute, we find the new Section 1 judges are just unelected circuit judges, appointed into the Seventh Circuit Court District to serve three-and-a-half years instead of four.

¶61.  Even viewing Section 1’s language with a strong eye towards validity, we find Section 153’s
express election requirement prohibits these particular circuit court judgeships, which are appointed for a term, and not elected.  Thus, Section 1 cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.²⁵

The reversal comes as not much of a surprise.  The bill created four unelected special judges to specific terms.  However, the Court did find a loophole for the Chief Justice if he chooses to use it. 

Chief Justice May Still Appoint Special Circuit Judges

The Court was not ignorant of Jackson crime and its effect on the court dockets in Hinds County.  The Court said ruling Section 1 appointments unconstitutional does not affect the Chief Justice's ability to appoint special judges to relive the criminal docket. 

¶62.  That does not mean, however, there is no current constitutional mechanism for appointment of temporary special circuit judges. Indeed, the Chief Justice unquestionably has authority under Section 9-1-105(2) to appoint special temporary judges to the Seventh Circuit Court District—or any other Mississippi court—to address overcrowded dockets or other emergencies....

In fact, for the more than three decades Section 9-1-105 has existed, three different Chief Justices have utilized it to assist Hinds County’s overcrowded criminal docket. The present Chief Justice has also turned to Section 9-1-105 when special judges were needed....

the Chief Justice has discretionary statutory authority to appoint temporary, special judges, as his predecessors have, to assist continuing backlogs and mounting crime problems....

¶71.  What makes Section 9-1-105(2) appointments “temporary” is not simply the appointment’s duration but that it is tethered to a specific emergency or docket backlog. Once the emergency subsides or the docket returns to a manageable state, the need for the appointment ceases....

The opinion took pains to point out Jackson's crime problems and nation-leading homicide rate in justifying this section of the opinion. 

Immunity from Lawsuits

The Court ruled Chief Justice Mike Randolph and Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zachary Wallace are immune from lawsuits related to HB #1020. 

The lawsuit did not challenge the expansion of the Capitol Police nor its jurisdiction. 

Justices Coleman, Beam, Chamberlin, Ishee, and Griffis concurred with the opinion.  Justices Kitchens and King concurred in part and dissented in part. 




Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

So section 1 is declared unconstitutional. Where does that leave the CCID?

Anonymous said...

Will there be riots?

Anonymous said...

Splitting hairs you say?
Some are just better than others at pilpul.

Anonymous said...

So the creation of the CCID Court is fine, but the mechanism for appointing judges to it is unconstitutional. The courts can't amend the statute so it seems to me this is a solid win for the challengers. The CCID Court may technically exist but it has no judges so it can't function. I suppose now it's up to the Legislature to amend the statute to either provide for elections or to try to find some other way to appoint judges while staying within the bounds of this opinion.

Anonymous said...

So if I am reading this correctly.....they are saying that the appointment of special judges is NOT unconstitutional in order to address exigent circumstances.

Anonymous said...

The high court sided with Chancellor Dewayne Thomas that a provision in the bill creating a special CCID court is constitutional.

It also ruled there are no constitutional impediments blocking the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court from appointing judges in emergency circumstances.

However, the court ruled that 1020’s provision calling on the appointment of temporary circuit judges to the Hinds County Circuit Court does violate the state Constitution and remanded that matter back to the chancery court.

So how much more time and money is going to be gone through wrangling this out?

Anonymous said...

Will Richard, Ted and Rukia be on the new court?

Anonymous said...

Socrates Judicial Headhunting LLC can find some judges for a fee.

Anonymous said...

somebody give the plain english version. what is about to happen

Anonymous said...

I yearn for the days when courts didn't wallow in ambivalence and obfuscation. Just say it clearly for all to understand.

Anonymous said...

One of the best lines from the majority opinion: "While appellate courts do not make independent findings, we would have to bury our head in the sand to suggest crime is not surging in Jackson." Reading the tea leaves, Justice Randolph appoints four temporary judges to the CCID court. "We mention this because just as the Chief Justice utilized Section 9-1-105(2) to mobilize additional judges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Justice has discretionary statutory authority to appoint temporary, special judges, as his predecessors have, to assist continuing backlogs and mounting crime problems."

Anonymous said...

What they said was the following: all portions of HB 1020 that didn't involve the Chief Justice appointing unelected circuit judges until 2026 and that didn't involve the CCID court were not challenged and remain in effect. Those things not challenged include the expansion of CCID to Northside Drive, Capitol Police's primary jurisdiction within CCID, the establishment of a 911 system for CCID, etc. Of the two challenges to the bill, the Court held that CCID court was constitutional and would go into effect in January 2024 with the Chief Justice appointing its judge before then. As to the circuit judges, they held that portion unconstitutional. However, practically speaking, the Chief can appoint as many as he wants to serve for however long necessary so long as it is tied to a legitimate need (i.e. the surge in crime in Jackson and the backlog in cases). There was some interesting dicta that I hope legislative leadership picked up on saying that the legislature could draw a new circuit court district with elected judges within the CCID. We'll see if they choose to go that route.

Anonymous said...

“Will there be riots?”, ANTIFA, is on the way. They will have to import rioters from outside of Jackson, because the citizenry are too lazy.

Anonymous said...

The wear and tear on my mouse scroll-wheel is considerable. Such nonsense to post all that crap with 60% of those who read that crap will yawn and ask, "So...what does this mean?"

Anonymous said...

I don't see how pages 2-5 of the opinion could have been written any clearer. It makes me wonder if some commenters even read it.

1. The legislature can't direct the Chief Justice to appoint circuit court judges to the 7th Circuit District. That part of the chancery court judgment was reversed and rendered, which means that's the end of it.

2. Everything else was affirmed, which means that's the end of those issues too.

3. Jackson will have a new CCID "municipal-like" court. The appeal process will be the same as an appeal from a regular municipal court.

Anonymous said...

POOF - Just like that Jackson will continue to be a dumpster fire. The justice system in Hinds County is a train wreck.

Anonymous said...

Who will appoint the judges in the CCID courts: Lumamba?

Anonymous said...

One thing in the law (Sec. 1) about the SC Chief Justice appointing the 4 judges is this is the first statute that had ever given him and him alone the power to appoint a judge. Every citation referenced, in the law and the constitution, had given the power to the SC Chief, with the 'advice & consent' of the rest of the Supreme Court, meaning the entire SC had to vote on it.

Anyway, the entire matter has been resolved, and the state court has made its decision. I think the federal court has been waiting until the state made a decision, and now that time has come. The court's decision is straight-forward enough. The legislature, as stated in the MS constitution, has the power to create 'inferior' courts (the municipal-like CCID court). It seems the MS SC court's biggest complaint was this law was not specific enough. The CCID court barely survived because the SC recognized that the legislature had created an inferior court similar to a municipal court, but the legislature never said "the CCID court is a municipal court". Oh, and the MS Supreme Court can still act on their own, without anybody's input, and create as many circuit judges as they want. So, the repeal of section 1 probably doesn't matter at all.

Anonymous said...

As a non-lawyer observer, MSSC opinion appears to have found a way to implement all of 1022's intent and purpose, closing a front door while opening a back door for its appointment of temporary judges.

Anonymous said...

Leslie King. Who can be surprised. He had a radical agenda in Greenville 40 years as a local lawyer.

Anonymous said...


"Such nonsense to post all that crap with 60% of those who read that crap will yawn and ask, "So...what does this mean?"

That number is closer to 99% that won't understand a word after the first paragraph, if that.

Anonymous said...

Executive summary please.

Anonymous said...

Executive summary please.

September 22, 2023 at 8:10 AM

-Basically they upheld that 1020 is valid except the part about appointing judges for a set term. The Chief Justice can (and was already allowed) to appoint judges when there are exigent circumstances (court backlog, crime epidemic, etc...). They just are appointed on an as needed basis. The legislature can come back with the new circuit and have elections for permanent judges who are elected if they choose to.

In other words, 1020 is good, appointed judges will not have terms that end in 2026.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Typed the post at 7:33 too fast. Should be...

Leslie King? Who can be surprised? He had a radical agenda in Greenville 40 years ago as a local lawyer and school board attorney.

Anonymous said...

9:13 - yes, but. The problem with creating a new circuit and electing judges is that you would get no better judges than Hinds County is already eleccting. There would not be 'exigent circumstances' if the current judges would (1) do their job - hold court regularly and require both the DA and the defence attorneys to bring their cases to trial timely, rather than grant multiple continuances; (2) sentence the criminals to jail rather than the catch and release system that currently exists.

Adding more elected judges would only result in the need to build more courtrooms that would remain empty 95% of the time - only used to hear the motions for another continuance, allowing the judges to head home for the rest of the day --- again.

Anonymous said...

The real take away from all this is that Jackson/ Hinds will get the judges they deserve.

Anonymous said...

This may not solve the 'catch and release' problem, but it damned sure will solve a lot of the 'catch' problem.

Anonymous said...

To me, the real takeaway from some of the comments is that some people want others to read and interpret for them.

truthwillsetyoufreemostofthetime said...

What 2:08 said.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS