JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Monday, three Jackson residents filed a lawsuit in the Hinds County Chancery Court asking the court to block House Bill 1020 because it violates the Mississippi Constitution.
According to the ACLU of Mississippi, the lawsuit was filed by Ann Saunders, Sabreen Sharrieff, and Dorothy Triplett.
“State lawmakers have said that this takeover of our judicial system is for our own good, for our own safety, and that is deeply offensive to me,” said Saunders, a plaintiff in the litigation. “African Americans in Mississippi died so that we could vote. How does weakening the right to self-governance make us safer? Safety comes from communities having resources they need to develop the safeguards they know will be appropriate and effective. In the struggle for freedom, we want that responsibility. H.B. 1020 denies us that and makes us less of a democracy.”
The NAACP Office of General Counsel and Covington & Burling LLP also filed a lawsuit to challenge House Bill 1020 and Senate Bill 2343. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.
The two bills were signed by Governor Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) on Friday, April 21.
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.
The other bill mentioned in the lawsuit is Senate Bill 2343, which expands the jurisdiction of Capitol Police in the Capitol Complex Improvement District. It provides primary jurisdiction to Capitol Police in the CCID and concurrent jurisdiction in Jackson.