Jackson New Media, Inc., the publisher of the Mississippi online political website Y’all Politics (YallPolitics.com), filed a motion last week to unseal the 2007 federal court case of State Farm Insurance vs Attorney General Jim Hood. Raycom Media, the owner of three Mississippi televisions stations – WLBT in Jackson, WLOX of Biloxi, and WDAM of Hattiesburg – joined in with supporting motions to intervene before U.S. District Court Judge David Bramlette.
In the case, State Farm sued General Hood for failing to abide by previous agreements and questioned him under oath in a Natchez courtroom. That testimony is not sealed, but the settlement and other materials currently are not accessible by the public or the media.
The motion to unseal the settlement was made to protect the free press rights and the public interest under the U.S. and Mississippi constitutions, as well as the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983. The motion asks for “access to the settlement agreement and any related documents or materials now maintained under seal by the Court” on this matter.
State Farm sued Hood not because of his personal activity, but based on actions they allege he committed as our Attorney General. They reached a settlement.
Hood claims the settlement vindicates him and the “allegations lodged against me by this insurer were shown to be false.”
But if Hood is correct, then he should be pleased that Y’all Politics has petitioned for this settlement to be opened. We should all be glad that new media and old media have teamed up to protect our access to open government and our freedom of the press.