Posted on January 3, 2024

Judge Allows New Court in Mississippi’s Majority-Black Capital

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, December 31, 2023

A federal judge has ruled that he will allow Mississippi officials to move forward with creating a state-run court in part of the majority-Black capital city of Jackson, over objections from the NAACP.

Attorneys for the civil rights organization had sued on behalf of several Jackson residents, saying the new court undermines democracy because local voters or local elected officials won’t choose its judge or prosecutors.

The new Capitol Complex Improvement District Court will have a judge appointed by the state Supreme Court chief justice and prosecutors appointed by the state attorney general — officials who are white and conservative.

In a ruling filed late Sunday, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate dismissed requests to block the new court, which was created by the majority-white and Republican-controlled Mississippi Legislature. Jackson is governed by Democrats.

“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.

Under a law signed by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves during the spring, the new court will come into existence Jan. 1 and will have jurisdiction in a part of Jackson that includes state government buildings and some residential and shopping areas.

Reeves and legislators who support the new court say it is part of an effort to control crime in Jackson — a city that has had more than 100 homicides for each of the past three years, in a population of about 150,000.


Most municipal judges are appointed by city officials. Jackson has a Black mayor and majority-Black city council. The judge of the new court is not required to live in Jackson.