Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice recused from HB 1020 lawsuit

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Mississippi’s Supreme Court Chief Justice has been recused from an appeal in a lawsuit involving the controversial House Bill 1020.

On Monday, Justice Michael Randolph issued a recusal order for himself after being named a defendant in the suit filed by Jackson residents Anne Saunders, Sabreen Sharrief, and Dorothy Triplett.

“A just and independent judiciary is a paramount consideration. The institution of the Mississippi Supreme Court must be shielded from unnecessary criticism that would surely result if I delayed the proceedings,” Randolph stated. “I, sua sponte, recuse from consideration of all issues in this appeal.”

The lawsuit aims to prevent HB 1020 from creating an appointed court system in Mississippi’s capital city as well as expand the jurisdiction of Capitol Police.

On May 15, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge J. Dewayne Thomas handed down a decision stating that the bill does not violate the state constitution.

“As a lifelong citizen of Hinds County and a lifelong friend and neighbor of many of those decrying the same, this Chancellor is not unmoved,” Thomas said. “However, Mississippi law is clear that this Court may not consider the motivation for the legislation or its policy.”

Thomas’ decision was appealed several days later, with the next hearing in the Mississippi Supreme Court set for Thursday, July 6.

Randolph has also been dismissed in another lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that prevents the bill from going into effect amid a temporary restraining order (TRO).

One month ago, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate approved Randolph’s motion to be removed from the case against HB 1020 due to the Doctrine of Judicial Immunity.

Wingate explained in a 24-page order that his decision came as the doctrine “shelters judges from lawsuits, whether declaratory or injunctive, when the judge, within his jurisdiction, performs a ‘judicial act.’”

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