Federal judge makes comments on Jackson crime within latest order in HB 1020 case

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 9:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A federal judge is giving insight into the capital city’s crime problems. This order is related to the House Bill 1020 challenge.

The purpose of the order was to dismiss Chief Justice Mike Randolph as a defendant. But in the process, Judge Henry Wingate weighed in on issues facing Jackson.

Within Judge Wingate’s order, he states that Jackson has a “crime cancer” and called it “sweltering, undisputed and suffocating.” He points to street gangs as a problem and references the “race to the grave” and “kill fest.”

The Jackson delegation did not dispute the comments.

“The fact of the matter is, we do have a problem with crime in the city,” noted Sen. John Horhn. “It’s not just this particular case that’s going to put our focus on problem-solving with the crime. There are other solutions out there, and we need to be about the business of finding those other solutions.”

Wingate also notes “The legislature has taken notes but not in the manner Jackson desires.”

“The individuals that represent the city of Jackson were not consulted, or respected enough to have their opinions, listened to about 1020 in the aspects of 1020,” said Rep. Chris Bell. “None of us in this delegation or in this city, are a fan of crime.

“None of us want crime. We all want our children and our families to live in peace,” he continued. “But there are some ways that we can go about finding solutions to live in peace without having a majority super Republican legislature push 1020 down our throats and tell us to live with it.”

WLBT asked Mississippi College School of Law professor Matt Steffey about the order and the judge’s comments.

“It’s not as if it’s unrelated, and it’s certainly not unprecedented, but it is not what we get every day,” said Steffey.

Do the comments give any indication to the parties about the judge’s frame of mind moving forward?

“If I were defending 1020, I would be encouraged that the judge understands the scope of the problem,” added Steffey. “If I were attacking 1020, I would hope that this is merely a signal that I understand the problem, but it has to yield to the equal protection clause of the 14th. So like beauty, these sorts of things are in the eye of the beholder.”

The federal case is still pending with oral arguments for the preliminary injunction expected later this month.

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