Hood in middle of $14 million legal fee fight

Because the state was a party to the settlement agreement, he wrote, the state is bound by the terms of the agreement.

“Plaintiffs further assert that the Attorney General had the authority under Mississippi law to enter into the Settlement Agreement which provided that MCI pay the attorney fees directly to the Plaintiffs,” Richman wrote.

He argued that if a court directed the funds to the Legislature, the Legislature would have to pay Langston anyway, under the contract that Hood signed.

In fact, Richman reasoned, enforcement of the contract might require the Legislature to pay Langston more than $17 million.

Normally an attorney general would defend a state executive in a lawsuit, but Bryant had to hire outside counsel because Hood would not represent him.

Bryant retained Arthur Jernigan and Craig Geno, both of Ridgeland, Miss. and Andrew Kramer of New York.

Kramer filed an answer for Bryant on Nov. 2, recommending that Judge Gonzalez abstain from hearing the matter in favor of the courts of Mississippi.

In case Gonzalez should decide to hear it, Kramer filed a $14 million counterclaim.

He alleged that Langston and Balducci “illegally received public funds which must immediately be returned to the State of Mississippi, with interest.”

He wrote, “…no contract can supersede the requirements of Mississippi state law.”

He figured that Langston and Balducci made at least $2,800 per hour.

On Nov. 6, voters reelected Hood and picked Bryant for lieutenant governor.

Since Nov. 29, when the grand jury indicted the Scruggs team, Hood has downplayed his ties to the attorneys.

Sid Salter of the daily Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote Dec. 12 that, “Hood should find it increasingly difficult to distance himself from Langston, Balducci and others who find themselves stuck in the web of the Scruggs probe.”

Salter wrote, “Langston has been Hood’s largest campaign contributor.”

Judge Gonzalez has not ruled on Bryant’s request for transfer to Mississippi.

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