What about the legal arguments? State Farm describes its claim as that Jim Hood “Is pursuing the current criminal investigation in bad faith for the purpose of coercing State Farm to forgo its First Amendment right of access to the courts by settling Hurrican Katrina cases brought by major contributors to Attorney General Hoods Campaigns.” That’s in the State Farm brief in opposition at page 2. There’s also an allegation that Hood used “the threat of criminal investigation and prosecution to compel State Farm to coerce E.A. Renfroe & Company …to dismiss its suit against… the Rigsby Sisters…” (on page 5)
State Farm does set and spring the trap I mentioned previously on this blog: SF has an agreement with Hood to drop the criminal prosecution, and at the same time arrived at what SF is calling “a separate agreement” under which State Farm was to re-evaluate claims, establish an orderly fair and prompt method of reevalutating the claims, and to pay no less than 50% of the claims and a minimum of fifty million dollars. It is this “separate agreement” that was the class action settlement that blew up last Spring. SF is arguing that Hood is violating SF’s constitutional rights by linking the settlement of civil claims to the threat of criminal prosecution. (on page 20). SF notes that in state court, Hood is seeking to enforce the settlement agreement, and that his office has kept the $5 million SF paid as a part of the settlement. SF takes the position that the agreement not to prosecute can’t legally be linked to the (failed) settlement deal.