Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas studies his notes at a hearing, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Hinds County Chancery Court in Jackson, Miss., where he heard 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)

A Hinds County judge on Monday denied a preliminary injunction to block House Bill 1020 from becoming law. 

Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas issued an order and memorandum explaining findings of fact and conclusions of law in response to a request by three plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the appointment of temporary special judges in the Hinds County Circuit Court under HB 1020. 

“As a lifelong resident of Hinds County and a faithful voter in local elections, this Chancellor is keenly aware of the Plaintiff’s expressed feelings regarding the appointment of special circuit judges and the creation of a CCID court,” he wrote in his memorandum. “However, disappointment and frustration with the legislative process does not create a judicial right to relief.”

HB 1020, which is set to go into effect July 1,creates a separate police force and court system within Jackson and directs white state officials to appoint judges instead of having them elected by residents of the majority-Black city. Residents have raised concerns and Jackson lawmakers have said they were not part of crafting the legislation. 

Thomas ruled that the plaintiffs did not provide enough evidence that the appointment of temporary judges within HB 1020 and establishment of the Capitol Complex Improvement District court are unconstitutional “beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to his memorandum. 

He also didn’t find that the plaintiffs proved that an injunction is needed to prevent irreparable harm, according to the memorandum, saying that the challenged provisions of HB 1020 are not unconstitutional in nature and, therefore, can’t create any constitutional rights violations. 

Thomas also found that the plaintiffs didn’t give enough evidence that they would suffer harm without an injunction and that injunctive relief is consistent with public interest, according to the memorandum. 

To approve a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs must show evidence of all four factors. 

The ruling came days after he heard arguments about the constitutionality of the bill. 

In the order, Thomas said the lawsuit is now fully ripe for appellate review. 

The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Mississippi, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the MacArthur Justice Center and the Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In a Monday afternoon statement, the plaintiffs said they plan to appeal the dismissal of HB 1020 to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

HB 1020 has also been challenged in a lawsuit in federal court

On Friday, Judge Henry Wingate issued a temporary restraining order in that lawsuit to prevent the Mississippi Supreme Court Justice from appointing judges under the law. A hearing is scheduled for May 22, and, similarly, the plaintiffs are asking the judge for a preliminary injunction. 

That lawsuit argues that HB 1020 violates the U.S. Constitution for race discrimination by creating a “separate and unequal policing structure and criminal justice system by which no other residents of the state are subjected.”

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Mina, a California native, covers the criminal justice system. Before joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Clarion Ledger and newspapers in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today.