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Mississippi Court Elections: What Do You Want to Know?

Two Mississippi Supreme Court seats and other posts are up for election on Nov. 5. What would you ask the candidates?

This is The Marshall Project - Jackson’s newsletter, a monthly digest of criminal justice news from around Mississippi gathered by our staff of local journalists. Want this delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to future newsletters.

Mississippi Court Elections: Send us your questions for the candidates

This November, tens of millions of voters will select Joe Biden, Donald Trump or another candidate to serve as president for the next four years. But, the presidency is just one piece of our democracy.

Here in Mississippi, you also have the opportunity to determine who serves on your courts. Up for election this year are two seats on the state Supreme Court, one seat on the Court of Appeals, and, in Hinds County, one county court judgeship. These courts make vital decisions that impact the lives of Mississippians. Those elected to judicial offices hand down hundreds of decisions each year about criminal convictions, civil rights and the law.

At The Marshall Project - Jackson, we’re committed to providing you with the facts before you cast your vote. That’s why we’re putting together an election guide to help you navigate the 2024 judicial elections.

We want to hear from you. What do you want to know about each candidate? What would you ask them if you had the chance? Share your thoughts and questions with us here, anonymously.

The courts usually have the last word on contentious issues. In September, for example, the Mississippi Supreme Court declared that the creation of four unelected circuit court judgeships in Hinds County, under the controversial House Bill 1020, was unconstitutional.

They also make life-and-death decisions for people like Eddie Lee Howard, Jr., who was convicted of murder in Lowndes County and sentenced to death. After 26 years on death row, the state Supreme Court reversed Howard’s conviction in 2020, citing faulty evidence used in his trial. He walked out of prison as a free man in 2021 after all charges were dropped.

You have the opportunity to choose who makes decisions like these. Tell us what you’d like to know about the candidates.

Red tape in Mississippi may block some incarcerated people from voting

Mississippi disenfranchises some people with felony convictions for life, but most people with felony convictions not only retain their right to vote, they can also cast ballots from prison.

The logistical hurdles to do so are steep, however, and an opinion from the state attorney general two years ago muddled the process even further by suggesting that only people detained outside their county of residence could cast an absentee ballot.

State lawmakers have now fixed the issue raised by the attorney general, paving the way for thousands of people held in custody to request absentee ballots from local election officials. Incarcerated people, however, still face serious barriers to the ballot box, including widespread confusion about who’s eligible to vote and a tangle of paperwork.

“There is a real intimidating array of logistical issues,” said Paloma Wu, a civil rights attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice. Read The Marshall Project - Jackson story by Caleb Bedillion.

More ‘Goon Squad’ accusations could bring wider federal investigation

Months after officers on Rankin County’s so-called Goon Squad were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in torturing Black residents, federal prosecutors are conducting further investigation into the county’s sheriff’s department, Mississippi Today reported.

Since the news about the Goon Squad broke, several people have spoken to the press or filed lawsuits, saying they were abused by deputies in the Rankin County sheriff’s department. The U.S. Department of Justice is gathering information to see if it will open a “pattern or practice” investigation. Such an investigation would search for systemic violations of civil rights throughout the department, instead of focusing on individual misconduct.

At a meeting with more than 50 people at a local library, Todd Gee, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, urged residents to share their stories if they felt their civil rights had been violated by Rankin County officers. He said he was aware of several incidents in the county over the years that citizens had already reported. The meeting was closed to the press, as citizens talked privately with investigators. Meetings like this one have preceded civil rights lawsuits against police departments in Ferguson, Missouri — where an officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 — and in Minneapolis, after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a police officer. Investigations in both cities found civil rights violations.

The Justice Department will conduct more in-person meetings to gather information. The DOJ also has an ongoing pattern or practice investigation in Lexington, Mississippi, which was announced in November 2023.

If you believe your civil rights have been violated, you can fill out this complaint form and email it to or call the hotline at 601.973.2825.

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If you’ve experienced or witnessed something in the criminal justice system that you think we should look into further, contact us through this form or All tips are confidential.