Senate passes bill to cut attorney general’s power

The Mississippi Senate voted 32-17 Wednesday to restrict Attorney General Jim Hood’s power to control the state’s legal business.

The bill would write into law what share of a verdict could be earned by outside lawyers hired on contingency. It would also require that the attorney general appoint outside lawyers if he had a “significant disagreement as to the legal strategy” with the head of an agency or elected official who had a legal issue.

The attorney general would also have to appoint outside lawyers if he declined to represent an agency.

The measure creates a three-man panel composed of the governor, the lieutenant governor and secretary of state that would referee such disputes, deciding who should prevail. The loser could appeal into court.