State Auditor Stacey Pickering Files Motion for Summary Judgment in MCI Case
Jackson, Miss. – State Auditor Stacey Pickering filed a motion on Tuesday for summary judgment in the MCI Settlement case asking Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd to determine whether the $14 million paid directly to The Langston Law Firm for their service as outside counsel retained by the Attorney General’s office was in compliance with State law.
Prior to filing this motion, two federal judges, one in New York and one in Mississippi, both ruled that this issue is a matter of state law and should be decided in a Mississippi court. “The agreement between Joey Langston, Attorney General Jim Hood and the judge in the original settlement acted outside the law when entering into a contract to pay Langston for his services without that money being appropriated through the Legislature,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. Precedent shows it is unlawful under Mississippi Code 7-5-7 to use public money to pay outside counsel retained as special assistants to the Mississippi Attorney General, except out of the Attorney General’s contingent funds or monies appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature.
In requesting summary judgment in this case, the State Auditor feels there is no need to incur the expense of a trial because this is a matter that is ready to be decided by Judge Kidd and/or the Supreme Court. “The matter has been ruled on in two federal courts, and the courts have ruled favorably to the State Auditor and the State of Mississippi. “Summary judgment would allow this case to move forward expeditiously and save the taxpayer’s money.” A decision from Judge Kidd is expected this fall.
The MCI settlement in 2005 was in favor of the State of Mississippi and resulted in $100 million, and an additional $14 million paid directly to Langston Law Firm for special assistant fees. It is illegal for public funds to be spent except upon a two-thirds vote of the Mississippi Legislature. The State Auditor’s Office contends that the Langston Law Firm received its $14 million fee in violation of the Mississippi Code and Mississippi Constitution. The Office of the State Auditor contends that any fees should have been approved by the Mississippi Legislature.
Since taking office January 10, 2008, State Auditor Stacey Pickering has recovered over $1.1 million. The total amount of funds recovered in FY 2008 ending June 30 by the Office of the State Auditor was $1,918,092.08.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release