Senate passes bill realigning, condensing court district

NORTH MISSISSIPPI — The U.S. Senate has approved legislation supported by Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that will realign the federal judicial boundaries for the Northern District of Mississippi, condensing the existing four divisions into three.

The Senate by unanimous consent approved the Divisional Realignment Act of 2012 (HR.5512), a measure to redraw federal judicial divisions in the Northern District of Mississippi and the Eastern District of Missouri. The legislation can now be referred to the President for his consideration.

“Realigning these divisions is designed to improve the overall operation of the federal judiciary in Mississippi. It should equalize caseload levels, aid jurors and attorneys and increase the efficient use of our court facilities. These changes are supported by the judicial and legal community, and I’m glad that this measure will be sent to the White House,” Cochran said.

Cochran and Wicker cosponsored S.3293, the Senate companion legislation to HR.5512. The House measure was introduced by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and cosponsored by Congressmen Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.).  The House of Representatives approved HR.5512 on May 30.

The legislation defines the three new divisions for the Northern District of Mississippi, including the:

• Aberdeen Division encompassing Alcorn, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Prentiss, Tishomingo, Webster and Winston counties

• Oxford Division incorporating Benton, Calhoun, DeSoto, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Pontotoc, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tunica, Union and Yalobusha counties

• Greenville Division including Attala, Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Grenada, Humphreys, Leflore, Montgomery, Sunflower and Washington counties.

Incorporating the eight counties in the current Delta Division into the three new divisions reflects the fact that there is no longer an active federal courthouse in Clarksdale. The realignment is supported by judges in the Northern District, the Fifth Judicial Circuit and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, according to Cochran’s office.

The new boundaries would take effect 60 days after enactment of the law.

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