The Clarion-Ledger, 2/20/9

Two state agencies argued in court Thursday over which has the authority to represent the state in a legal fees dispute.

The attorney general’s office argues only it has the authority to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state.

The state auditor’s office said it had to hire outside attorneys because the attorney general’s office wouldn’t represent the agency in seeking $14 million in legal fees paid to the then-Joey Langston law firm and others as part of the 2005 MCI/WorldCom tax settlement.

Attorney General Jim Hood supported the tax settlement that netted the state $100 million and another $14 million in attorney fees. Hood opposes the auditor’s lawsuit, saying it could end up costing the state $3 million in taxpayer money.

But the auditor says Hood’s office is costing taxpayers money by not representing his office in the case – state of Mississippi v. Langston Law Firm.