The court ruled that while the Mississippi Legislature is allowed to create separate inferior courts, such as the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) court, the appointment of judges violates the Mississippi Constitution.
Writing for the majority, Justice James Maxwell said, “While Section 1 calls these new judges ‘special court judges’ on paper, we see nothing special or unique about them. Section 1’s text merely creates four unelected circuit court judgeships appointed into Hinds County to serve three-and-a-half-years instead of four.”
The plaintiffs in the case are calling the decision a win.
“I think the Mississippi Supreme Court did the right thing in finding that judicial appointments required under 1020 just blatantly violated the state constitution, which requires expressly that they shall be elected by the people. The people of Jackson really did not do what the authors of this bill and leadership in the legislature anticipated. They did not roll over. They got very organized very quickly, and I think that where we go from here is we have to appreciate that the landscape is people are readying, people know that it’s not over,” said Blake Feldman, Impact Policy Counsel for the Mississippi Center for Justice.
With that being said, the court did say that the chief justice does have the right to appoint judges in “exigent circumstances.”