The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 3/25/8

Lawyers for The Langston Law Firm of Booneville and disgraced former attorneys Joey Langston and Timothy Balducci want a New York bankruptcy court to make a final decision on their claims on $14 million in legal fees they were awarded for bringing $100 million in back taxes owed to the state of Mississippi.

In the usually deliberative court world, letters and requests have been flying – either to close the MCI/WorldCom Inc. legal fees case in New York, where it originated, or send it back to a Mississippi court.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate of Jackson told lawyers for both sides via telephone he intended to order the case back to Mississippi.

The Langston side immediately asked him to delay his order until the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York can rule on its request in effect to close the discussion on the legal fees. Its lawyers say that ruling “is imminent” and could render Wingate’s issues meaningless.

Monday, they sought to shore up their case in a hand-delivered letter to the bankruptcy judge, Arthur J. Gonzalez, in New York. Should that court decide the 2005 WorldCom matter is closed, the attack on their fees would be barred.

The other side, led by state Auditor Stacey Pickering, seeks the return of the $14 million in legal fees, which were awarded outside the state’s settlement.