Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph, left, and his attorney Ned Nelson, exit the Thad Cochran United States Courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Monday, May 22, 2023, for a lunch break, during the first day in federal court where a judge is hearing arguments about a Mississippi law that would create a court system with judges who would be appointed rather than elected. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Chief Justice Mike Randolph was originally included in the lawsuit over authority granted to him to appoint four temporary judges in Hinds County, a task the plaintiffs say violate Jacksonians’ rights.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate has dismissed Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph from the NAACP’s lawsuit against House Bill 1020.
Chief Justice Randolph filed a motion to dismiss, citing the Doctrine of Judicial Immunity.
The lawsuit against HB 1020, which was signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, provides additional temporary-appointed judges within Hinds County, creates a lower court within the Capitol Complex Improvement District, and increases jurisdiction for the Capitol Police throughout the city.
The NAACP filed the federal lawsuit against the law, claiming that the appointment of judges in the district violates the constitutional rights of Jacksonians to elect their representation. Chief Justice Randolph was named as a party in the case as it was he who was given the authority in the law to appoint the four temporary judges to the Hinds County Circuit Courts.
The decision to remove Randolph from the lawsuit was made last Thursday in a 24-page order. Wingate added that the criminal justice system in Hinds County is in crisis and the District Attorney’s docket is overwhelming.
Ultimately, Judge Wingate said that the plaintiff’s fight in the HB 1020 case is not with Chief Justice Randolph. He agreed with Randolph’s argument that judicial immunity makes him a “non-combatant” in this situation.
The prior day, Judge Wingate agreed to the NAACP’s voluntary dismissal removing Governor Reeves from the lawsuit.
A separate case filed in the Hinds County Chancery Court was appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court after Judge Dewayne Thomas ruled in favor of the defendants in the lawsuit. It was filed on behalf of three Jackson residents.